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What is coping? Coping refers to what a person does in order to avoid, remove, minimize, or “get through” a stressful situation. Coping is defined as the process of making adaptations to meet personal needs and to respond to the demands of the environment. The coping process uses personal resources to manage routines, frustrations, and challenges of daily life in ways that seek to maintain or enhance feelings of well being.
The way a child copes in a hospital environment can be influenced by many things, including: age, past medical experiences, family support, comprehension of diagnosis and hospitalization, developmental level, and any other current stressors
Coping techniques and common reactions children use to get through difficult situations:
Appropriate coping skills exist within every child, but sometimes the stress of hospitalization causes the skills to be temporarily threatened or minimized. Coping strategies are unique for each individual and skills that work for one person may be different than techniques that work for another but all deserve understanding. Often we hear parents witness a reaction listed above from their child and say, "I just don't know why she is acting this way. This just isn't her." We want you to know that while these behaviors may be out of character for your child/teen they are normal and seen among many children as they try to get through this challenging time in their lives. While understanding of where the behaviors are coming from is needed, appropriate limits and redirection to coping strategies that may be more positive or viable in a hospital setting is also your right as a parent; example "I know you are angry that you have to come to the hospital but it is not okay to hit the nurse. You are only allowed to hit your 'angry pillow.'" etc. Child life specialists are available to assist patients and siblings in creating and developing positive coping skills, plans, and techniques for events that will be challenging for them. Involving the child/ teen in the process of choosing the positive method that works best for them gives them back the control they were in search for to begin with. "Out of character" reactions are usually temporary and will decrease once new routines are established and your child/teen starts to feel more comfortable and secure.