Child psychology specialist encourage parents to be aware of the traumatic stress symptoms that are common in children after a serious illness, injury, or hospitalization. Even though it is your child who is ill or injured, your whole family can be affected. It’s normal for you, as a parent, to feel overwhelmed or unprepared to help your child (or yourself) cope with a hospital experience.

Traumatic stress symptoms can include:
• Being easily upset or angry
• Feeling anxious, jumpy, or confused
• Being irritable or uncooperative
• Feeling empty or numb

Things in the hospital that can be traumatic for children:
• Being left alone
• Being in pain or going through painful procedures, like shots
• Seeing an injury to their body
• Being exposed to medical equipment that looks or sounds scary
• Thinking that being in the hospital is a punishment
• Seeing other hurt or sick kids
• Being afraid of dying

The hospital can be traumatic for parents too:
Having a sick, injured, or hospitalized child often results in feelings of frustration, sadness, worry, or helplessness.
• It is a stressful time when relationships with medical staff take priority, and other important relationships and activities get interrupted or put on hold.
• Having a sick or injured child often challenges parents’ innermost beliefs about the safety of their children.

Many parents and caregivers of hospitalized children tell us that:
• They worry about what will happen to their child, even though they don’t always show it.
• They feel unprepared to talk with their sick or injured child (or their other children) about feelings, fears, and questions.
Special information for parents and caregivers:

You are the best person to help your child . Be patient with your child. Help your child understand what is happening.
Allow your child to talk about worries or feelings about being in the hospital. It’s okay to be scared or cry, but also help them talk about their feelings.

Younger children are often better at expressing their feelings through play, drawing, or story-telling.
Listen to your child, and help your child understand that these feelings are normal.

Talk about your feelings together. misinterpret information or other people’s feelings.
Ask questions to figure out what they know and what they imagine. Reassure your child that he or she has not done anything wrong.

Help your child see the hospital staff as helpers.
Young children are often more affected by being left alone.
Take care of yourself.

Finally, discussing the developmental stage of maturity that your child is at with your doctor is important. No one knows your child better than you

Author's Bio: 

Scott Wardell is the SelfGrowth Official Guide to Child Development. He’s the creator and author of ScottCounseling.com. Scott has twenty-eight years in education and counseling experience. Visit ScottCounseling.com to review hundreds of free parenting articles and receive online counseling services.

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