Teens (12 Years and Older) 

Helping Your Teen Cope With Hospitalization

Teens are mainly concerned with friends and body image. Changes in their body and sexuality are issues of great importance. Teens are self-centered and believe "it can't happen to me." Rebellion against authority is another marker of being a teenager.

Common hospital concerns of teens include dependence on adults; separation from family and friends; bodily injury and pain; body image and sexuality; invasion of privacy; and status with friends after hospitalization. The following ideas can help parents and caregivers during their teen's hospital stay.


  • Bring familiar objects such as a blanket, pillow, stuffed animal, music, movies and clothing.
  • Listen to favorite music.
  • Watch favorite movies.
  • Play board games.
  • Play card games.
  • Play video games.
  • Participate in group activities such as art, cooking and games with other patients.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Create a scrapbook.
  • Write poems and stories.
  • Use a computer.

Medical play:

  • Write stories and poems about the hospital.
  • Make sculptures with casting material.
  • Create artwork and music with medical themes.
  • Explore real medical equipment.


  • Include your teen in discussions and decisions about his or her health when possible.
  • Encourage your teen to ask questions about the hospital, procedures and treatment.
  • Allow and support your teen's privacy.

Coping ideas:

  • Provide privacy.
  • Respect independence.
  • Provide choices when possible.
  • Encourage friends to visit.
  • Pick a favorite place or thing to talk about or imagine.
  • Play music on a portable CD or tape player.
  • Play a hand-held game.
  • Breathe with slow deep breaths.
  • Relax muscles.
  • Squeeze a ball.
  • Talk on the phone with family and friends.
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