Helpful Hints for Community Visitors

Children at the University of Maryland Children's Hospital are ill and under stress; therefore, their reactions may differ from those of healthy children. Sometimes they may appear withdrawn or bored, but even so, hospitalized children are grateful for the interest shown in them.

You should approach children slowly, allowing them to decide to what extent they wish to interact with you. Children may be fearful of you. Do not push yourself on a child, especially a toddler. If the child shows any resistance to greeting you, then move away from the child. Please do not pick up any child as many of them have hidden incisions or tubing.

Avoid the question form of address when meeting a child. Do not ask, "What's wrong with you?" "What happened to you?" "How long have you been here?" "When are you going home?" as these may be sensitive issues for many children and families. If you must ask questions, you might ask their ages or names or inquire about interests or home town. Be sure your comments are positive.

When on the Pediatric Units, please respect the privacy of children and families. Avoid staring into rooms as you walk past and realize that some children and families may decline your visit.

Take special care around children who have an intravenous (IV) apparatus. Try not to back into or step on the IV pole or tubing. However, there is no reason to avoid interacting with children who have IV's or other medical equipment attached to them.

In planning activities, try to include ways for children to be actively involved (i.e., hands on music, teaching origami, writing poetry, an interactive play) rather than just providing passive entertainment.

We hope these guidelines assist you in planning your visit and look forward to your participation in our program.

The Child Life Program
University of Maryland Children's Hospital