In our last blog, we began our series on preparing your child for surgery. As a pediatric surgery specialist in Anchorage, we see a lot of scared and confused children come through our doors. Today we’re going to specifically focus on preschoolers and how to better prepare yourself and your preschooler if they’re facing surgery. If you know what he or she is worried about, then you’ll be better prepared to help mitigate those fears and make the experience an overall positive one.
What is your preschooler anxious about?
- Do they fear damage to their body?
- Are they afraid that they did something wrong and that’s why they have to have surgery?
- Is your preschooler imaging things that are far worse than what the actual surgery entails?
How can you help prepare your preschooler for their surgery?
- Firstly, give your preschooler some prep time by explaining the surgery about three to five days in advance. This is all the time a preschooler needs.
- However, choose your words wisely! Your preschooler is smarter than you may realize. Avoid “double-meaning” words by explaining anesthesia as something that will put your child to sleep. This may make them think of a pet being “put to sleep” and they may then think they’re going to die. Consider using phrases like, “The doctor is going to help you take a nap for a few hours.”
- Quickly quash your preschooler’s fears by reassuring them that the surgery is not their fault. Use encouragement in the form of allowing them to express their feelings and letting them know it’s okay to feel scared or to cry.