Talking with Your Child

Visiting a hospital can be frightening and stressful for your child. Talking with your child ahead of time so he or she knows what to expect can help. St. Christopher's Hospital for Children offers services to help you prepare your child for his or her hospital stay.

Here are some tips for talking to your child about visiting St. Christopher’s:

  • Be honest with your child and explain the reasons why he or she is going to the hospital
  • Many younger children view the hospital or a painful procedure as a punishment for something they may have done wrong. Let your child know that is not the reason for the visit
  • Have your child bring along a favorite toy or stuffed animal
  • Encourage your child to ask questions and express his or her feelings
  • Let your child know whether you’ll be staying with him or her at the hospital. If you’re not able to stay, let your child and hospital staff know when you’ll be coming back to visit

When to Tell Your Child about Visiting St. Christopher’s

Deciding when to tell your child about his or her hospital visit can be difficult and usually depends on your child's age. Below are some general guidelines.

  • A child under 3 years old should be told two or three days before scheduled admission or surgery
  • A child between ages 4 and 7 should be told four to seven days before he or she comes to the hospital
  • A child who is 8 years old or older should be told a few weeks before and encouraged to participate in the decision making about his or her care