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June 9, 1956


JAMA. 1956;161(6):487-490. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02970060001001

• The emotions aroused in children by encounters with doctors and nurses, by hospital stays and surgical operations, can leave deep and serious psychic scars.

Especially during prolonged illness, a child needs more than the minimum of attention. Even under the most hygienic surroundings, the child will develop poorly physically and mentally unless it gets essential tender, loving care. This principle is illustrated by cases of fractures and burns that entail long periods of confinement.

Children 3 or 4 years of age requiring hospitalization or surgery are especially sensitive and should not be neglected during visiting hours. Older children sometimes cooperate remarkably well, especially those who come from stable, closely knit rural families.

Deception is bad. The emotional heart of a child is mysteriously moulded by all those with whom it comes in contact, and a child sunned by love, security, and understanding will be able to withstand the storms of illness and pain.