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When Your Child Need Surgery: 7 Essential Tips for Parents

Child in HospitalParents are likely to be more anxious about a child’s surgery than their own. Knowledge and preparation are the keys to relieving anxiety all around.

Here are tips for making your child’s (and family’s) experience the best it can be:

1. Take care of yourself first.
Your child’s upcoming surgery is naturally stressful for parents. Children can pick up on a parent’s anxiety and become anxious, too. This limits their ability to cope.

Don’t be afraid to ask the healthcare team any questions you may have about your child’s surgery, anesthesia or recovery. “Having enough information can help to reassure you,” says Child Life Manager Shannon Sonnhalter, CCLS.

2. Talk things out in a calm, quiet place.
Tell your child in simple words that he or she will be coming to the hospital. Explain why they need this procedure and when it will happen.

Encourage your child to ask questions and share feelings. This can help you to correct misconceptions. For example, some children view surgery as a punishment. Others worry they may die in the hospital if that happened to a grandparent.

Teens can imagine scenarios they’ve seen on TV or in movies, like waking up in the middle of a procedure. “We tell them that’s drama, and real hospitals aren’t run like that,” says Ms. Sonnhalter.

Honesty will preserve your child’s trust in you and the healthcare team. If you need help explaining things, a hospital’s child life specialists can assist you. Continue on Health Essentials