Helping Your Child Heal Emotionally From a Hospital Visit
There may come a time when your little one has to be admitted to the hospital. Whether it’s for surgery or an illness, a hospital stay is scary and hard on the whole family. We will be going over one of the first steps to help your child heal emotionally from their potentially frightening experience.
It is quite common for us to see little ones who really struggle when they get home from a hospital visit as they try to process all that they’ve been through. Often times they seem to ‘take it out’ on the person that was there with them the most. You may see more anger, upset, crying, aggression and you may feel like it is directed only at you. Not only is this totally normal, it’s sort of expected!
It is so important to remember that your child feels the safest with you and is working through some heavy emotions and knows that no matter what, you love him and you are there for him. You are his safe spot.
There are some great tools that you can use to help him offload those emotions while still supporting him. You can help him process this experience, regardless of how old he is, and help him heal not only physically but emotionally as well.
One of the most important tools is going to be listening. Sounds pretty simple but it can actually be a little tough.
The goal is that when your little one is upset, throwing a tantrum or having a meltdown, whether it’s for something big or not, your job is going to be to sit down and listen. Not to distract or stop the crying. You want your child to cry and to offload those emotions so that it doesn’t turn into something bigger such as more anxiety. You want to remind him that you are there for him and that no matter how upset he is, you will always be there for him. Of course if he starts hitting or being aggressive you will set a limit and ensure yours and his safety.
You can use minimal talking with encouraging phrases like “I know you are upset, I’m sorry you are hurting, I’m listening.” Just be mindful that the goal is not to stop the crying or upset, it’s to actually allow your little one to vent and get rid of those emotions. Much like if your best friend was venting with you, you would allow her to vent and not tell her to be quiet, stop crying or that she was being silly. You’d probably offer some advice, agree with why she is upset and wait for her to finish. This is exactly how we want you to help your child through those upsets, especially when they are trying to process something as big as a hospital stay.
Emotional healing does take time. Be consistent, be supportive and your little one will bounce back in no time!