My child needs to have surgery next month. How can I prepare her for it?
The best approach to prepare children for surgery is to be honest and reasonably direct in describing what will happen. Maintain a constant upbeat, optimistic tone during these discussions. Younger children have many different levels of maturity and understanding, both intellectually and emotionally. The amount of detail you include in your explanation should take that into account. Emphasize that the doctors and nurses will do everything possible to minimize the pain and discomfort in preparing for surgery. But be honest in mentioning that there may be a little irritation or discomfort when they draw blood or insert an IV. Above all, repeatedly stress that you will be with your child every step of the way, doing your best to protect her from any problems. If there are any questions that you feel uncomfortable answering, consult her doctor.
Mark Diamond M.D. is a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.