Preparing Your Child — and Yourself — for Sedation
Preparing your child for a visit to sedation depends on what works best for your child and family. Informing some children of a visit far in advance can actually increase their anxiety about the visit. Brief, factual information the morning of, or the day before the visit may be best to help prepare them.
Other children may need more time – a few days to a week – to process information, ask questions and get help working through coping strategies.
Tips to help prepare your child
- Use simple words your child will understand.
- Encourage your child to discuss feelings and ask questions about the upcoming experience, but be careful not to force a discussion if your child does not seem ready.
- Be honest. If you do not know the answer to your child's question, tell your child that you do not know, but that you will find out.
- Be aware that your visit may take a minimum of three to four hours. It is helpful to bring items to distract, entertain or comfort your child before and after sedation.
Tips to help prepare yourself
- Remain calm an take care of yourself. You will be able to provide better support for your child if you are rested and comfortable. The sedation process will be discussed during your entire visit, so there should be no surprises.
- Bring a spouse, a friend or a family member with you, but try to leave younger children at home and keep your party small to decrease stimulation in your room. A second person will be very helpful during your journey home when your child is still groggy.
Tools to help prepare your child for his hospital visit
Kids Health Galaxy
Our Kids Health Galaxy provides engaging and educational stories to help prepare your child for a visit to the Hospital. You'll find helpful information, including:
- People you will meet at the Hospital
- Tests and procedures, including getting an IV
- A look around the Hospital
Child Life Specialists: Coping strategies
You and your child may meet a Child Life Specialist during your visit to the Sedation Unit. Child Life Specialists are professionals from CHOP’s Child Life, Education, and Creative Arts Therapy who are trained to speak with children about what to expect in the hospital and offer age-appropriate coping strategies.
Coping during healthcare procedures
Child Life, Education, and Creative Art Therapy at CHOP offers common coping strategies you can use to prepare your child for a test or procedure.
What to bring to your visit
To make this visit as easy as possible for you and your child, please bring anything you think will be comforting or entertaining during expected wait times. In addition, please remember to bring any communication systems your child may have. Our staff also wants to know of any ways we can support you and your child, so please tell us about your child’s likes and dislikes, concerns and needs.
Some suggestions that have worked for other patients and families:
- Favorite book
- Favorite toy
- Favorite “snuggly” item (blanket, binky/pacifier, doll and stuffed animal)
- Favorite cup (if your child has a preferred cup)
- Communication device, if your child uses one (PECS book, iPad, Dynavox, iTouch)
- Activities to keep your child busy independently (word finds, Sudoku, Nintendo DS, iPod/music, and coloring books)
- Sensory objects that are soothing for your child like (squishy balls, teething/biting toys, and sound minimizing headphones)
- A drink for after the procedure is complete if your child has specific preferences