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General Hints

Originally published on November 10, 2009
Most recently updated on April 10, 2013

Depending on what type of brain tumor your child has, you may be experiencing long hospital stays. A hospital environment can seem intimidating at first, but we hope the hints we provide here will help you and your child feel more comfortable. Both of you need to feel as comfortable as possible in the hospital environment and with your child’s health care team. Don’t hesitate to express any concerns, ask questions, or encourage your child to ask his or her own questions—children old enough to think of a question are probably old enough to ask it themselves. Information will give both of you a sense of control. Loss of control is often a big issue for children while in the hospital, just as it is for adolescent patients, as their independence and freedom are significantly diminished. If you don’t understand a procedure or treatment, keep asking for an explanation until you do. Unless it makes sense to you, how can you consent to it?

Giving correct, honest, and age-appropriate information about the diagnosis and how it will be treated will help with your child’s adjustment. Honest communication with your child will serve your family well not only throughout hospital admissions but also throughout the entire treatment. It is important to remember that young children will not demonstrate the same intellectual awareness or emotional reactions to events as adolescents or adults will. It might also be beneficial to prepare your child in advance of upcoming hospitalizations. However, at times you may not be able to anticipate a hospital admission, because of certain unpredictable events in your child’s treatment regimen. During hospitalizations, you may find it useful to connect with the hospital social worker on staff, who is skilled at helping parents sort out their own overwhelming feelings and finding appropriate ways to communicate with children.

“Knowing a few days ahead of time when it was time to return to the hospital for treatment or checkups gave me time to prepare mentally and physically, and made me feel more comfortable with the return visits. In case of unanticipated hospital visits, my mom would let me know everything was okay and that I did not need to worry. She let me know that I just needed to be careful and let the doctors check me out.”
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