Baby sickness – is always a hard trial for family, and if the matter concerns baby’s hospitalization, then you can become panic-stricken only at the thought of the fact that a baby will be estranged from his family, painful procedures expect him, and strangers will surround him.
Because of hospitalization, a baby can get the whole complex of serious psychological problems, caused by sickness, isolation from home and conditions of hospital. Even adult person experiences stress, when he needs to apply to a doctor and moreover, while necessity of long staying in hospital. Needless to say about baby’s stress! Strange atmosphere, strange people, new, constantly renewed children collective, forced separation from parents, fear of medical procedures – all this is quite enough for psychological discomfort. And all these factors accompany symptoms of disease.
However, you shouldn’t dramatize situation. Of course, disease and necessity of hospitalization – are traumatizing factors. But for majority of children staying at hospital can become an important stage in formation of personality, bring lots of new impressions and knowledge, and give possibility to try themselves in difficult life circumstances. This experience will be useful in further life of a child.
Processes of adaptation are individual for each child. This depends on many reasons: whether he had diseases earlier, stage of disease, is he staying at hospital for the first time or not, baby’s age, whether he was separated from his family before etc. Often everything passes quite smoothly, due to presence of inner reserves of a baby and correct behavior of parents.
It’s quite normal, if period of adaptation at hospital lasts during 3-5 days. There’re no reasons for anxiety, if a baby is rather careless during first days of hospitalization, asks to take him home, gets into contact with coevals not at once. Excess care and parental inclination for dramatizing situation can only damage. On the other hand, you shouldn’t leave a baby alone with his problems. He shouldn’t feel abandoned and lonely.
Quite often parents of sick children need more psychological help, then children themselves, as it is their correct behavior that influences a baby’s mood for recovery.
Here’re several recommendations of experts. Never frighten your baby with hospital. Don’t create future problems, as there’s hardly any baby, who hasn’t been at hospital for his life. During conversations with other people avoid such phrases, like: “There doctors hardly understand something, I wish only they don’t harm my child” etc.
In case of baby hospitalization do your best to reduce stress and melancholy because of coming separation from home and parents. Adults themselves should be confident in future, calm and wise, so that a baby would treat staying at hospital calmly. If hospitalization is planned and you have at least 1-2 days for preparation, involve baby in preparations, as if he would be going to health centre or camp.
Try to dispose your baby to optimism. Children have great intuition, and it’s almost impossible to persuade them in things, which you don’t believe yourself in. So, first of all you should analyze your own emotions and forget about affirmation: “Hospital – pain, fear, danger”. Replace it by “Hospital – help, relieve, recovery”. You confidence and peace of mind will be passed to your daughter and son. Talk to your child about coming hospitalization softly-softly. You can explain to schoolchild, that sickness is not a catastrophe, but a peculiar exam for courage and firmness. Tell your child that you will be thinking of him constantly and you’re always ready to help him. Think and discuss ways of your contacts.
During separation avoid touching scenes, restrain excessive emotions. Try to behave the way, so that a baby would treat hospital not as punishment, but as a place, where he will be helped to recover sooner and return to usual life. Form positive attitude, both to improvement of health and doctors’ work. Explain your child an objective necessity of medical assistance.
Don’t persuade him that he is guilty of his sickness, trauma etc. himself. By doing this, you will increase sense of guilt and fear, which can cause undesirable psychological complications. Of course, there’re situations, when it is important to discuss wrong behavior of a child, which caused disease. But it is also very important that a result of your conversation would be not a sense of guilt, but understanding of cause and effect connection between wring behavior and disease.
Discuss schedule of visiting a child with relatives for sure, to avoid situations, when there’re several visits per one day and no visits at all other day. This is very important, as excess of visitors can lead to emotional overloads of a sick baby, and their absence – to increase of longing for home and relatives.
Try not to hung up on topic of disease and treatment. Life goes on. Ask your child about his new friends, news, what he does in spare time. Keep all your doubts concerning effectiveness of treatment inside of you. Don’t overload patient with your doubts and fears. As medicine, which you doubt, will not help, as doctor, whom you don’t trust, won’t be able to help. Try to avoid unpleasant topics, wait a little with information about bad news: sick baby need not to know that his favorite doggie eats bad or that cat ate hamster. While talking to a baby, pay attention to positive moments of staying at hospital. Think about things you can compliment him for: he bears procedures with fortitude, doesn’t play about, could make friends with somebody, drew a good picture etc.
Unfilled spare time increases feeling of loneliness, longing for home. So you should definitely worry about things your child should do. Bring him an interesting book, meccano, some new game, paints, crayons etc. Bring a toy for a small baby surely. You can tell that a new “friend” came to him specially to protect him at nights (if a baby is predisposed to night fears). It will be very good, if you bring him a toy bear, elephant, lion, tiger, i.e. any big animal, which will be able to personify power and protection (size of toy is not important).
After discharge talk to your baby about time he spent at hospital. Ask him about things he learned to do, what he understood about himself and his relations with other people, help him to realize value of experience he gained.