Preparing Your Teenager for the Hospital

Because teenagers have a good understanding of what is happening with their bodies, they can understand the reasons for the hospitalization. It is important for them to know what to expect. Teens may have many questions and worries but are often reluctant or embarrassed to ask. Encourage your child to be involved in discussions and decisions being made about his/her care and treatments. This will make your teen feel more in control of what is happening to him. Teenagers are often concerned about changes to their bodies, being in pain and privacy issues. Other common worries include being separated from friends, missing school activities and falling behind in school.

Teenagers need to be told as far in advance as possible about coming to the hospital. This gives them time to ask questions and to make plans (for example packing items they'd like to bring from home and telling their friends and teachers). Discuss with your child any fears or concerns she may have. Allow expressions of all feelings. Teens often feel angry and upset about what is happening. Don't try to discourage these feelings – they are normal. Instead, help your child to be involved in what is happening.

  • Give your teenager complete and honest information about the reasons for the hospitalization, when it will occur and what may happen.
  • Involve your child in the decisions being made, as much as possible.
  • Explain the long-term benefits of medicines and operations.
  • Allow teenagers to pack things that may be important to them such as music, comfortable clothing and activities.

Encourage your child to tell their friends about going to the hospital so they can stay in contact. Understand that teens often have many different emotions when sick, scared or under stress. He/she may want you to be with them more than usual or hold their hand while having tests or procedures.