As a parent, you want to avoid trips to the hospital at all costs. However, sometimes your little one will have to make a trip to the ER or have an unexpected surgery. When that happens, you do not want your preschooler to be scared. Taking time to introduce children to hospitals and what goes on inside can make those dreaded hospital visits a little easier to handle.
With play versions of a few common hospital items and a child-sized lab coat, your preschooler can turn into a doctor. Your pint-sized doctor will diagnose you with imaginary illnesses and take great pleasure in giving you pretend shots. Taking on the role of a doctor or nurse helps your child learn about the different procedures that happen in the hospital and helps prepare them for potential real-life hospital experiences.
Learning about hospitals is the ideal time to talk about preventing behaviors that can land your preschooler in the hospital. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), falls and drowning are two of the top causes of child deaths, after motor vehicle and suffocation deaths. This is the time to stress wearing a helmet while learning to ride a bike, putting on a life jacket around water and being safe on the playground. You can also begin teaching your child about dialing 911 or a trusted family member in an emergency, but be clear about when she should and shouldn't call the number or you may end up with an angry police officer or EMT on your doorstep.
Visit a Hospital
It's hard to imagine wanting to visit a hospital when your child is not sick, but a fun visit to the hospital can introduce her to what goes on inside. Some hospitals have special education programs designed to take small groups of children on hospital tours. Don't worry, you're unlikely to visit actual patients or witness real procedures. However, you will get to meet some of the people who work in a hospital, touch some hospital equipment and maybe even catch a glimpse of the hospital's nursery.
It's never too early to encourage your child to fulfill your dream of having a doctor in the family. However, doctors are not the only people who work at hospitals. Talk about all the different people who work at the hospital, such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists and x-ray technicians, and what their specific jobs are. Not only will this introduce your preschooler to multiple career options, he will feel more comfortable should he end up in the hospital and find himself surrounded by these different employees.
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