What to Do in Illness: Children

At the time I wrote this post, I had a one year old and a baby. It is quite possible it should be expanded. But it offers some helpful hints on how to help a friend who is in crisis or is suffering through death, illness, whatever. It was specifically written for when a family has someone in the hospital.


If a spouse is in the hospital or seriously ill and the couple has children or a child is in the hospital and there are other children at home, offering to help with the children will help the family immensely.

If a parent is in the hospital, offer to stay with the children in their home overnight so that the spouse can stay at the hospital. If the HF [group] members did this in shifts, the difficulty would be eased.

Offer to baby-sit for a specific number of hours. For instance, the HF could offer three hours an evening so that the spouse (or parents) could be at the hospital without having to be concerned with the (other) children. Or volunteer two hours in the morning getting the children up and ready for their daily routines. Since the wake up time in hospitals is between six and seven and the doctors generally do rounds in the early morning, it is helpful to the spouse/parents to be able to be at the hospital together in the mornings.

Offer to take children to school, pick them up from school, take them to practices, have them over to spend the night.

Treat the children to a special night, with their parents’ permission. It is hard on children when a parent is in the hospital. Often it is more difficult when a sibling is in the hospital because the other children feel they are less important. Show them this is not true. Take them out to dinner or a movie. Or bring a special treat over just for them. Or arrange to play some games together without the parents. When M was being born E received several toys from friends to offset the attention being directed to the new baby. [Since I was in the hospital E was without his mother during this time for about two months.]

I think it was the Common Room, again, that wrote that sometimes offering to take the children is not a blessing. Don’t insist. Offer. If you think one of the children would be hard to deal with, that’s probably the one you should visit with. Let me go see if I can find that post. Maybe it’s the same one I referenced in the first suffering post. Yep, that was it.

Other posts on this topic:
What to do in Illness: Talk
What to do in Illness: Gifts
What to do in Illness: House
What to do in Illness: Stay at Hospital
What to do in Illness: Visiting
Others’ Suffering and What to Do