3 Ways to Help Your Child Celebrate the Holidays in the Hospital

Dec 12 • 2016

Spending the holidays in the hospital is difficult – especially for children. Not only are they not feeling well, but they’re also likely to worry about missing out on celebrations with family and friends. Luckily, there are a lot of things parents and other loved ones can do to help make a hospital stay during the holidays a little bit easier.

Spence and Becky Wilson Baptist Children's Hospital Pediatric ER Entrance

Spence and Becky Wilson Baptist Children’s Hospital

Bring Holiday Traditions to Your Child

One of the best ways to make the hospital more festive for your child during the holiday season is to bring special family traditions to them. There are a wide range of ways you can do this, like decorating the room, bringing presents, making ornaments or decorating cookies. “No one chooses to be in the hospital over the holidays, or really ever,” said Julianna Scholes, Child Life Specialist at the Spence and Becky Wilson Children’s Hospital. “Our goal as Child Life Specialists is to always make the hospital experience as child-friendly and normal as possible.” Depending on the child’s diagnosis, extended family members, friends, and siblings may be allowed to visit.

These visits can help quell some of the disappointment from not being able to see  family members who are around during the holiday season.


Be Open and Honest

When you’re preparing your child for a hospital visit over the holidays, it’s important to have an honest conversation with him. “Be as honest as possible and validate any feelings your child expresses regarding hospitalization,” said Katelyn Thomas, Child Life Specialist at the Spence and Becky Wilson Children’s Hospital. “It is essential for children to understand why they are going to spend the holidays in the hospital, as it can influence cooperation with medical staff and overall coping.”

As a parent, it’s also important for you to remain calm and stay positive. “Children learn from their parents and mimic their behaviors,” said Thomas. “How the parent approaches the situation will dictate how the child approaches it.”

Embrace the Environment

Aside from bringing your own holiday traditions into the hospital, you can also encourage your child to take part in new traditions. Encourage him to embrace special events that the hospital provides. At the Spence and Becky Wilson Children’s Hospital, team members go above and beyond to make the holiday season special for their young patients. “We decorate all of the pediatric units to make it as holiday spirited as we can,” said Scholes. “PD Parrot comes the week of Christmas to pass out gifts to the patients, Santa makes an appearance, and we have an Elf on the Shelf in every unit to help spread the holiday cheer. Santa has a way of knowing each child is at the hospital and drops a special gift off here for them.”

How Can the Mid-South Community Bring Cheer to Children?

Outside of the special services Baptist provides to hospitalized children during the holidays, the Mid-South community can also help make this time of year memorable. “The community can donate toys and stuffed animals to be given out to patients,” said Thomas. “They can also volunteer to help normalize the environment by volunteering as a special guest – or as themselves to read to a patient or spend time playing a game.”

If you’d like to get involved and help make the holiday season special for a child in the hospital, reach out to the Spence and Becky Wilson Children’s Hospital today for more information.