How to prepare your child for surgery

How to prepare your child for surgery

By Audrey Fuhrer
Certified Child Life Specialist

Surgery can be a stress and anxiety producing event for anyone, let alone a child. At Swedish, Child Life Specialists help children and families cope with the surgery process. Child Life Specialists are available to help educate and prepare children and families prior to surgery in our outpatient surgery center.

There are some things you can do as a parent to help better prepare yourself and your child for surgery before coming to the hospital:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider to educate yourself about the surgery process and what to expect
  • Talk to your child in advance about their surgery in an honest, matter-of-fact manner. Younger children need to start hearing about their upcoming surgery 2-3 days prior to their visit. School age and teenage children can handle talking about their surgery a few weeks in advance. Using books and similar resources can be helpful in talking to your child about their surgery.
  • Offer children some control wherever possible. Have your child pick a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or blanket to bring with them to the hospital. Older children can help pack their overnight bag if an overnight stay at the hospital is required.
  • Keep a calm and positive attitude when speaking to your child about their surgery, as well as on the day of their procedure. Children often pick up emotional cues from their parents and can sense stress and anxiety. Help your child cope positively by remaining calm and confident.
  • Child Life Services at Swedish offer pre-operative tours to help patients and families become acquainted with the surgery center and hospital environment. Please contact Child Life at 206-386-6283 to schedule your pre-op tour or discuss the surgery process to help you and your child prepare for your visit to Swedish.
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