How To Prepare Your Child For Surgery

How To Prepare Your Child For Surgery

 

The uncertainty of an impending surgical procedure can be scary for anyone, but especially for parents of kids with CHD.

 

As a parent, it's essential to prepare your child for any upcoming procedures and surgeries in an age-appropriate and transparent way while validating any emotions they may be experiencing, such as nervousness or uncertainty.

 

Supporting your child in knowing what they can expect can also help them:

 

  • Cope more efficiently and heal more quickly after surgery
  • Have less nausea and vomiting
  • Go home faster
  • Be calmer, have less pain, and needless Medicine to cope
  • Have fewer behavior changes after surgery

 

How can I prepare my child for surgery?

 

Every age group can benefit from a specific amount of preparation and knowledge based on their developmental level; everything you say as a caregiver can be customized according to your child's unique needs.

 

Infants

 

Telling an infant about surgery isn't always necessary, but infants find the most comfort from familiar people, things, and sounds.

 

Infants can easily pick up on stress and anxiety from their caregivers, so it's essential to keep yourself calm by utilizing healthy coping strategies. To make them feel more comfortable on the day of surgery, bring along a few familiar comfort items from homes like pacifiers, blankets, a sound machine, or preferred toys, especially for older infants.

 

Toddlers and preschoolers

 

Toddlers and preschool-aged children can benefit from the information being provided in a simplistic, concrete manner. Tell your child that they're going to the hospital a couple of days in advance, and be transparent about where you're going. Utilize repetition, reinforcement and try to focus on specific things your child will see, hear, and taste.

 

You can also choose to read books about going to the doctor, do a roleplay scenario, or talk about what's going to happen.  You can demonstrate by using a doll or stuffed animal and let your preschooler practice with it.

 

Keep your eyes and ears open for any fears or misconceptions, and use this opportunity to model healthy, appropriate behaviors. Remind your child that they aren't being punished by going into surgery, and reassure them that surgery is something to help them be healthier.

 

School-aged children

 

Children in elementary school can be informed about their surgery about a week or two in advance to allow time for processing and any questions they may have. Provide honest and straightforward explanations and use kid-friendly pictures, models, or drawings.

 

Focus on positive behaviors and acknowledge their strengths to reinforce those behaviors. Create a coping plan with them to use on the day of their surgery and validate any fears, nervousness, or anxiety your child may be experiencing.

 

Takeaway

 

Having a sick child who needs surgery can be incredibly stressful for any parent.

It's essential to know that you're not alone and that many parents have gone through the stress of a child undergoing surgery. It can be helpful to use your support system throughout this challenging time. Some hospitals offer support groups for caregivers and parents during their child's stay.

 

Remember that your child will be cared for by medical professionals while they're in the hospital and that you need to take care of yourself. Make time to rest, shower, and eat regularly. Taking care of yourself can help you support your child the best way you can.

 

Keywords: Child heart surgery

 

Resources

 

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/heartdefects/facts.html

https://www.saintlukeskc.org/health-library/preparing-your-3-5-year-old-surgery

https://www.chcmass.com/2018/10/05/the-stages-of-child-development/#:~:text=There%20are%20three%20broad%20stages,of%20development%20in%20each%20stage.


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