This study was aimed at comprehending the meaning of being hospitalized for pre-school children. The theoretical references were the Symbolic Interactionism and Vygotsky's theory on the child's symbolic play. The methodological referential was the Theory Based on Data. Eleven children between the ages of 3 and 6 took part in the survey. The strategies for data collection were: participative observation, interviews with the children mediated by the Therapeutic Toy, and interviews with the mothers. The analysis of the data made possible the construction of the technical model Growing up with the mother's protective presence, which puts in evidence the vulnerability, the child's force and the protection given by the mother to face the mystery and the fear of hospitalization.
Pediatric nursing; Child, hospitalized; Play and playthings; Mother with child in hospital