What Nurses can do to Help Hospitalized Children


Working with younger patients, especially little kids, can be an exceptionally rewarding experience for nurses.

It’s not without its challenges, however. Children have notoriously short attention spans, and they tend not to understand what’s going on, so they ask a million questions and they constantly want an ear. For those reasons, nurses sometimes end up feeling like daycare workers, which may leave them pulled in opposite directions: Do they tend to the youngsters’ health needs or their personal social wants?

Obviously, all nurses should be foremost concerned about practicing medicine. Whether patients are very young or very old, nurses have taken an oath to help tend to the sick. However, there are some ways they can “sneak in” a few moments to help hospitalized children get a little more enjoyment out of their time in a medical treatment facility.

1. Encourage Parents to Bring in Children’s Stuffed Animals and Small Toys

Although you don’t want a child’s hospital room to become too cluttered for hospital personnel to safely move around, it’s okay for a child to have his or her inanimate “friends” alongside him or her for the journey. This is especially important if the youngster will be staying in the hospital for an extended period of time. While many children’s hospitals already are set up to entertain kids with toys and games, it’s always nice for the kids to have some of their own toys from home.

2: Take a Few Moments to Make Sure Their Hand-Held Devices are Charged up

What could be more exasperating for a little kid going through hospitalization than to suddenly lose power to his or her tablet or laptop? Many young people rely on technological devices to make their time pass more quickly. When nurses are in the kids’ rooms, they might want to take a peek at the battery level of the device. If it’s nearing zero, it’s time to recharge. Though this might sound like a tiny responsibility, it can mean the world to a kiddo.

3: Help Their Parents and Family Members Understand That There are Fun Learning Tools for Children in Hospitals to Enjoy

Many parents and guardians worry tremendously that their children are going to get behind in school because of an extended illness or a medical condition. Fortunately, there are many different web-based and non-web-based platforms that will keep kids learning and having a blast. From elementary music videos that focus on grammar to accelerated math learning sites, there’s no lack of opportunity for creative families.

4: Request That Kids Draw Pictures or Make Artwork or you and the Rest of the Nursing Staff

Children and art go hand-in-hand. Nurses can always ask their younger patients to draw, color or put together some type of artwork for display in the hallway, in a common areas or at the main nurse’s station. While you may need to give them a little encouragement and ideas to get started, you’ll find that once the kids get the hang of making you smile, they’ll keep it up. Make sure to always praise them for the best parts of their artwork; a grin goes both ways, and it’s absolutely terrific medicine.

5: Bring in Coloring Books From your Own Kids’ Stash

Nurses who have families of their own may just find that they have coloring books, puzzles and games just sitting around the house. As long as the items are sanitized, they can be brought into the hospital for children to play with while they are being treated. Kids don’t care that the items are “hand me downs;” they’re just going to be thrilled that they have something to do.

Never assume that children will simply “entertain themselves.” While there are some kids who are seemingly mature enough to handle being bedridden or at least in the hospital for long periods of time, they all need to be psychologically nourished and intellectually stimulated. Nurses can assist in making certain that every hospitalization is remembered not with fear, but with fondness.

Image by rahego

About the author

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a healthy living blogger with a passion for productivity and motivation. You can read more of her Nursing Feed posts by following her on Google+ and Twitter, or you can check out her site, ProductivityTheory.com for more posts!

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