Is Your Family Prepared For Surgery? From The Pediatric Surgeon To The Procedure Itself

How should you prepare for your child's first surgery? You've spoken to the pediatric surgeon about the procedure—but you're not sure how to get your child, their siblings, or yourself ready. Take a look at what you need to know to make this day easier for everyone in your family.

Start With Honesty

Are you tempted to sugarcoat the procedure for the sake of your child or their siblings' stress level? Even though you want to focus on the positive aspects of the surgery (such as the results), you need to start a pre-procedure discussion with openness and honesty. This will help your child, other children in the family, and adult relatives understand the reason for the surgery, the procedure process, and what to expect from the post-op or recovery period.

Invite Questions

It's likely your child and their siblings will have questions about the procedure. The same goes for close relatives, such as other parents/stepparents and grandparents. When you start to discuss the surgery and its steps, invite everyone to ask questions. 

Don't worry if you can't answer every family member's questions. Some members, including children, may have complex questions about the procedure or the science behind it. Instead of ignoring questions that you can't answer, making an educated guess, or googling the procedure, talk to a medical provider. Your child's pediatrician, the surgeon, a nurse, or another member of the pediatric surgical staff can help you field hard-to-answer questions.

Ask Questions

Your child and the rest of the family may not know where to start or which questions to ask. Get a better picture of how everyone feels and what they want to know with a few questions of your own. Ask your child and their siblings what they know about hospitals and surgery in general, what concerns they have, and what they feel the most challenging part of the procedure process is. 

Your child's siblings also have needs during this time. Ask them how they think they can help their brother or sister. If they're not sure how to answer this question, offer some advice or easy-to-follow tips. 

Get Creative

Young children may find it difficult to understand surgical terms or the surgical process. This means you may need to get creative as you discuss and explain the procedure. Read picture books about hospitals, surgeons, or medical procedures as a family. Instead of reading to your children, read with them. An interactive approach allows your children to take part in the story-time and ask questions. Along with reading children's books, you can also act out a surgical scene with stuffed animals or create your own pretend play scenario.