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Learning About How to Support Your Child Before Surgery

How can you support your child before surgery?

Going to the hospital for a surgery can be stressful for your child. But there are things you can do to help your child feel calm and safe while in the hospital. Here are some things to try.

Talk with your child

  • Explain in simple language why the surgery is happening.
  • Ask your child to tell you why they are going to the hospital and what will happen there. That can help you understand what worries your child the most.
  • Find books or videos about children and surgery. Then you can read or watch them with your child.
  • Talk about the good things. Focus on how surgery may help with a health problem.
  • Answer questions honestly, and don't make promises you can't keep. For example, don't promise that there won't be any pain. Instead, be encouraging: It may hurt after surgery, but we will help you. It will get better.
  • Consider your child's feelings. Let your child know that it's common to feel afraid or angry. Make sure your child knows that the surgery isn't punishment for anything

Work with the hospital

  • Ask if the hospital has child life specialists. They can help you and your child understand your child's health condition, prepare for the surgery, and get emotional support.
  • See if the hospital offers a tour. A tour of the hospital can help your child see what a hospital is like.
  • Ask if you can bring a favourite toy or blanket to help comfort your child.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

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