How To Talk To Your Child About Surgery

If you have a child who needs a surgical procedure, chances are, you're slightly nervous. However, your child might have even more fears or uncertainties around the process than you. Since children aren't as well-equipped to navigate their emotions or process new information, they'll likely need quite a bit of coaching beforehand to ease their fears (via Children's Healthcare of Atlanta). Doing so can not only help them remain calm leading up to the surgery but can help them recover faster, too.

First, try to be as honest as possible with them (via Children's Hospital of Philadelphia). While it might be tempting to tell them it won't be that bad or it won't hurt, it's more important to be forthcoming with them in an age-appropriate way. Let them know why they're going to the hospital and what will happen in words that are easy for them to understand. It's also important to validate your child's feelings. They're probably feeling scared, but they could also be feeling mad, sad, or a lot of feelings all at once. Tell them it's okay to feel these things and even a normal part of surgery.

Using playtime to eliminate fears

Try to encourage your child to ask lots of questions and talk about their fears, per theĀ Cleveland Clinic. They might not understand exactly what's going to happen, so they could be misunderstanding the situation. For example, they might recall a relative who passed away at the hospital and think they're also going to die. It's important to make space for them to talk all their feelings out and offer all of the facts and reassurance.

If your child isn't talkative, use playtime to explain what will happen and let them express any worries. Use a doll to show them where the procedure will take place and let them act out what might happen ahead of time. They can even bring the doll, or another beloved object, on the day of the surgery for comfort.

Finally, make sure to take care of yourself, too (via Children's Hospital of Philadelphia). Prioritize rest and nutrition and don't be afraid to ask friends and family for help, if possible. Be patient with yourself as you navigate this stressful time.