The doctor’s office, the hospital, the emergency room—these may be stressful places for children, and for you. Your child might feel nervous about what is going to happen next or overwhelmed by unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. Sometimes, a new diagnosis can leave a child feeling frightened and alone. You might share these same emotions.
Easing your child’s fears and anxieties—and yours—is just as important as caring for their physical needs. We are here to reassure you that everything you and your child feel is normal, and that there are ways for you both to feel less anxious and more in control. These essential emotional support services are provided by Sala Institute for Child and Family Centered Care.
Children and teens who already have a mental health condition diagnosis, such as anxiety, depression, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, often need extra support when they are in the hospital. Our psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other mental health professionals, part of the KiDS of NYU Foundation Integrated Behavioral Health Program team, can meet with your child to see how they are handling the stress of medical care. We can also develop a treatment plan that is focused on helping your child better cope with the situation.
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In other cases, a child might experience anxiety or depression for the first time while recovering from an accident or after being diagnosed with an illness. Your child’s emotions can be complex: fear about being ill, guilt about the stress this causes family members, and anger that it happened in the first place. Our psychiatrists and psychologists can provide treatment that may include additional support, therapy, or medication, if necessary. We can also help you better understand your child’s struggles.
Some children fear a blood test, and others act out when they have to have a medical treatment. This is normal, and our staff knows how to help.
Our child life specialists are trained in ways to ease your child’s fears and provide comfort. Our art and music therapists help children find creative ways to express their emotions. Yoga and meditation can help everyone in the family relax, and services are provided by our integrative medicine program. Our chaplains offer support in coping with the emotional and spiritual impact of your child’s condition.
Having a child in the hospital puts pressure on the entire family. Your marriage or other relationships might be tested. Your other children might be feeling afraid, isolated, or jealous. We are here to support all of you.
“You cannot take care of children without taking care of the entire family: siblings, parents, grandparents.”
Pat Chibarro, Nurse Practitioner
In talking with you and your family, we use the Family Stress Thermometer as our guide. This tool, also available in Chinese and Spanish, helps us learn how stress is affecting you, your child, and your family.
Stress can affect a person in many different ways. These may include worry and anxiety, but also extend to irritability, physical and mental exhaustion, sadness, or moodiness. In children, clinginess and tantrums are often signs of stress. We ask you to use the stress thermometer to rate your stress level on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being highest.
We also ask you to try to identify the root cause of your stress: Is it your child’s diagnosis? Family relationships? Worry about your own ability to cope with the challenges ahead? When we understand what you are going through, we can provide the extra layer of support you need, and connect you with family resilience experts and community resources that can help.
To learn more, please contact our social work and care management services team.
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