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Your Child’s Surgery

How do I prepare my school-age child (6 to 12 years)?

Talking with Children  

You’ll be better able to prepare your child for surgery if you know what they’re worried about and how you can help.

What is your child worried about?

Your child may be worried about:

  • others seeing them cry or that they’re scared
  • saying or doing something embarrassing
  • the surgery hurting or changing the way they look
  • waking up during the surgery

How can you help prepare your school-age child?

Give them at least 1 to 2 weeks to prepare for the surgery. Tell them what will happen before, during, and after the surgery.

Tell them they’ll get medicine from a doctor called an anesthesiologist to make sure they don’t feel anything or wake up during the surgery. If your child is worried about waking up during the surgery, read Anesthesia – frequently asked questions (FAQs) for kids to help you answer their questions.

Be supportive and honest but treat your child as normally as possible. Being honest about the surgery can lessen your child’s fears and help them better understand what is going to happen.

Explain things clearly and use words your child will understand. If you’re not sure how to answer a question, tell your child that you will find out the answer for them.

It’s normal for school-age children to be angry or quiet before the surgery. Let them know that it’s okay they feel this way and encourage them to talk about how they’re feeling.

Check for understanding. School-age children will listen carefully but may not understand what they hear. Have your child explain back to you what’s going to happen in the hospital. Talk about why they need to have surgery and what will happen.

Ask your child’s friends to visit them in the hospital or to keep in touch with your child by phone, text, email, or cards.

Make sure you or someone your child knows is with them at the hospital as much as possible.

Give your child as many choices as possible as you get ready to go to the hospital. Help your child pack a few items from home such as a favourite stuffed animal, blanket, pillow, book, or toy.

Books and ideas to help prepare your child for surgery:

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