- Be honest with your children, whatever their age.
- Keep them informed with information presented in language they can understand.
- Avoid lying to them.
- Your children might “regress” during this period. Look for increased irritability, problems at day care or school, or increased fighting. Children can experience fear, anxiety and depression just like you, though they may show it differently. Encourage expression of feelings at any age, but also maintain discipline and routine.
- Reassure your children that the injury and resulting problems are not their fault. Children have active imaginations and thoughts that they often do not express but believe.
- Do not force your children to visit the patient if they do not feel that they are ready. Until your children are ready to visit, encourage them to draw pictures, write letters or tape messages, which can be brought to the unit for your family member.
- When your children do visit, be prepared for their reaction to your family member and other patients on the unit. Encourage them to talk about any feelings of fear, anxiety or sadness. You may wish to try and center the visit on a game or activity such as watching television.
- Five to 10 minutes of visiting time may be enough for your children.
- Children are always welcome to visit family members on the unit; however, they must be supervised at all times and may not interrupt other patients' treatment sessions or privileges.