For parents

Visiting hospital can be unsettling at any age. For a child, the idea of going to hospital may seem a little scary. Here are some things you can do to help you both feel prepared:

Ask questions

It’s helpful to learn more about the hospital, your child’s medical condition and the treatment. Encourage your child to ask any questions they might have, and never hesitate to say “I don’t understand” or to ask what a word means. Our friendly team are here to help you.

Some common questions you may want to ask: 

  • What should I tell my child about the procedure or operation?
  • What will happen immediately before the operation or procedure?
  • How long will the procedure or operation take?
  • May I stay with my child during the procedure?
  • Where will I wait during the procedure or operation?
  • Will I be told how my child is doing during the procedure or operation?
  • When will I be able to see my child after the procedure or operation?
  • Will my child be in pain?
  • How long will my child stay in hospital?
  • How long will it be before my child can go back to school and play?
  • Where can I find more information on my child’s condition, operation or procedure?

For parents/carers

  • Ask your child questions to make sure they understand what you have said. Below are some age guidelines you might want to use:
    • Use honest and simple explanations that fit your child’s age and level of understanding.
    • Tell your child that they will be going to hospital for an operation, test or procedure, and let them know that you feel this is the right thing to do. If you feel at ease, your child is usually able to sense this and react in the same way.
    • Choose a quiet time to talk to your child about their hospital visit, and use a calm and relaxed tone of voice.
      • Under the age of four – consider telling them one or two days before going to hospital. At this age, a child will likely react to your feelings, so it is more important to take the time to focus on preparing yourself.
      • Five to seven years – children at this age have a better understanding of time so you might want to tell them three to five days prior.
      • More than seven years of age – a child is able to understand the reason for a hospital stay so you may want to tell them a week before going to the hospital so they have plenty of time to ask questions.
  • Remember that you know your child best. Be sure to tell your child’s doctors, nurses and other caregivers about your child’s personality and past experiences with healthcare. For example, if your child is especially afraid of blood tests, staff can often find ways to make the experience less upsetting.
  • Involve your child in organising and packing. Encourage your child to bring something familiar to hospital, a favourite toy or item of clothing can be of great help!
  • Try not to make promises you can’t keep. For example, don’t tell your child that nothing will hurt or that there won’t be any blood tests if you are unsure.
  • Tell your child how they might feel. For example, you may want to explain they will not hear, see or feel anything during the operation. You could try saying something like ‘The doctor will give you a special sleep medicine called anaesthesia before the operation.’
  • Let your child know that it is okay to feel many different ways about going to hospital. For example, excited, curious, worried, angry or frustrated.

For children

At Mater Children’s Private Brisbane, there is always someone here to look after you. If you need anything we will do our best to make sure you have it. Here are some top tips to make your time with us as enjoyable as possible:

Ask questions

If you have questions for the doctors, jot them down or ask someone to write it for you. That way, if you forget or you’re feeling shy, you can just show them your notes. If you’re worried about something, like a needle or medicine, write it down too. Our doctors and nurses can help conquer your fear.

Pack your bag

Don’t forget a change of clothes and your pyjamas if you’re staying overnight. You might also want to bring something from home, like your favourite toy, book or game.

Have fun

Smiling and laughing will help you to feel better. You will get to see lots of friendly faces while you are at Mater Children’s Private Brisbane and we have some fun things for you to do, like games, movies and an outdoor play area.