Helping kids feel safe when they are scared

All of us at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin have learned how to talk to kids about scary things — from common medical procedures to complex surgery.

When violence occurs, we’re usually the experts about communication: use the right words, watch for signs of fear and offer distractions to make things easier.

Yesterday, Children’s Hospital was in the middle of the frightening incident. Our hospital — a place for safety and healing for children in our community — was the subject of dinner table conversations that might have been uncomfortable, even scary for kids.

If your kids are asking questions about why a hospital for kids could experience violence, here are some tips for how to respond:

  • If your child expresses feeling unsafe, discuss how to regain a sense of control over his or her surroundings, like where to go in school if an event ever happened. Try comparing these plans to a tornado drill to help your child understand.
  • Limit exposure to media coverage to prevent re-living the event.
  • Remind your child this is not a common event.
  • If unusual behaviors last more than a week or two, please seek help from a professional.

Today, we’re back to normal at Children’s Hospital. I’ve had the chance to visit every patient floor in the hospital and have talked to countless families today. I have seen our doctors and nurses back in action—and following our own advice about helping kids feel safe.

Please remember that Children’s Hospital is always here for you and your family.

Nancy Korom, MSN, RN, NEA-BC- Nancy Korom, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, vice president and chief nursing officer, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is designated a Magnet hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

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