Helping Your Child Adjust

Helping Your Child Adjust

While a hospital stay may interrupt your child’s regular routine, you can make the stay more comfortable and fun with games and distractions from home, and by taking advantage of the activities offered at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

Contact a Child Life specialist

Call our Child Life Program at

717-531-8366

What to bring

You may want to bring items to the hospital that make your child feel comfortable as well as provide a distraction. Consider bringing:

  • A favorite item, such as a favorite blanket or stuffed animal
  • Books or coloring books
  • Personal electronics with headphones
  • Games

What to say

What you say and your body language influences your child’s perception of the hospital.

  • Use simple words and answer questions honestly when talking to your child about a hospital stay or procedure. Our Child Life specialists are happy to help you know what words to use. 
  • Set expectations. Let your child know what he or she will see, hear, smell, feel, and be expected to do. If you have to leave, explain why you are leaving, where you are going, and when you will return. Have a family member or familiar adult stay with your child when you’re away.
  • Reassure your child that being in the hospital is not a punishment.
  • Encourage your child to participate by asking his or her own questions to the care team

What to do

  • Maintain your routine as much as possible, continuing to set rules but also giving your child choices.
  • Let your child play with no interruptions, as much as possible. Allow your child to control the playtime.
  • Take advantage of our family spaces and activities for patients and siblings.

Plan your fun

We have several play spaces and activities for patients and their siblings.

Check out activities for patients and siblings.

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