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How To Prepare Your Child For Surgery And Anesthesia

September 10, 2020 4:35 pm

It’s difficult enough to prepare ourselves when we are having surgery. When it comes to our precious children, everyone could use some advice for how to prepare your child for surgery and anesthesia.

Children Will Mirror Your Emotions

With that in mind, stay calm when discussing your child’s surgery with them, or others. Little ears hear all. If you become upset or seem worried, they will pick that up from you. This is true regardless of your child’s age!

Be Honest And Give Them The Necessary Facts

You don’t have to reveal every single part of the surgery, but give them enough information to answer most of their questions and quell any fears.

  • Explain why they are having surgery. If they are having their tonsils removed, explain it will reduce their incidence of sore throats. If they have a broken bone, let them know that setting the bone will help it heal. Once the bone is healed, they can ride their bike again or throw a ball.
  • Keep the information age appropriate. A toddler or preschooler doesn’t need to know exactly what will happen. Older children will feel more secure if they know exactly what to expect.
  • It’s OK to let them know you will be nearby through the surgery, but you can’t be in the surgery room. You will see them when the surgery is over.
  • Give them plenty of opportunity to ask questions, and be honest with your answers. If you don’t know the answer, tell them that. Then find out the answer later.

Preparing Children For Anesthesia

Pediatrician Visiting Parents And Child In Hospital Bed

Choose your words carefully when explaining anesthesia. Avoid saying the doctor will put you to sleep. This could remind them of a pet that was “put to sleep,” and never came back. Instead, you could explain to younger children that a special doctor will give you medicine to help you take a short nap, so you won’t feel anything during the surgery. Explain that they won’t wake up until the surgery is complete.

Older children understand more about anesthesia, but be prepared to tell them about the process.

Find out how long you can be with your child as they are sedated, and share that information with them. This will give both you and them an understanding of what will happen.

Help Your Child Gain Some Control

No matter their age, give them choices whenever possible. Let them pick what toys or games to bring to the hospital. You can limit how many, but they choose.

Allow them to bring their favorite toy like a stuffed animal or blanket if appropriate.

Other Ways To Make Your Child Feel More Comfortable

Many facilities allow children to tour the space before surgery, so ask about that possibility.

Take advantage of a CLS, or child life specialist team if available. They can meet with your child to explain age appropriate information, and are available to answer questions via email or phone.

Take Care Of Yourself

The best way to help your child relax and get through having surgery is for you to get enough sleep and find time to eat healthy meals.

Do your best to find out everything about the surgery, especially if it is something serious.

Enlist friends and relatives to help out during this time, like taking care of siblings.

You can always reach out to the Pediatric Surgical Group for any other questions.