Dr Ranj's Hospital Top Tips

Over the years, I’ve learned that when small children come to hospital, they experience a number of things: they feel unwell because of their condition, they don’t understand what is going to or may happen to them and why, and they are scared it will hurt. These are things which can all make them anxious.

This is where preparation and play really come into their own, and is something everyone can do.

1. Explain

Explain in simple terms what the procedure is that they are having done - something like drawing pictures can be a real help.

2. Highlight

Explain why going through a procedure is important to them. Making it relevant for them individually can help get them on board.

3. Explore

Get them exploring the illness or body system that's involved, e.g. colouring in pictures or reading about what it does. That way they can understand the importance better.

4. Practice/Prepare

If it’s a test or procedure, pretend to do it at home before they go in. Why not make your own pretend X-rays, or pretend to do a scan on their favourite teddy? This way they can be better prepared and know what to expect.

5. Reassure

Be honest about discomfort - if it’s going to hurt, then tell them but don’t scare them. However, explain that it may be nothing like they think, and we will do everything we can to prevent it being painful! Also, having a distraction during uncomfortable procedures can be a real help.

6. X-rays

When having an X-ray, get them making their own pretend X-ray pictures showing the inside of their body.

7. CT scans

If it’s a CT scan they’re having, do a pretend scan at home and see how long they can stay still for or scan their favourite toy.

8. NG tube

Nasogastric tube insertion is a tricky procedure to explain, so you could trace the path of the tube as it travels through the nose and digestive system. It’s like a mini adventure inside them!

9. Fractures

Lots of children suffer fractures, so get them to learn about the skeleton and how it mends itself if they have to have a plaster cast.

10. Congenital heart problems

Children with congenital heart disease may have to undergo several scans, so showing them how the heart is put together and how it works can help explain why they need a particular test and what it shows.

More support

You'll find lots of songs, quizzes, clips and games on the CBeebies Get Well Soon page which you may find useful in helping to prepare your child for a hospital procedure.

There’s also a non-BBC app available for Get Well Soon, created to help support and reassure your children on trips to hospital.

Useful links

Help your child deal with health problems and operations

All Get Well Soon
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