Parents can help make the visit less scary with good preparation
How and when you talk with your child about an operation or hospital visit depends on their age and level of understanding.
As a parent, you know best how much information your child needs and can handle. However, generally, every child older than infancy needs to be told:
- That they are going to the hospital
- That they will be having an operation
- About what will happen (basic information) during their hospital visit
Please call the Child Life office in Temple for additional questions or concerns.
- Give simple explanations using words and concepts your child understands.
- Answer your child's questions honestly to help correct any incorrect notions they may have.
- Explain that the operation will help your child get better. Children relate to reasons like, "It will help you be strong and healthy" or "It will help your body do its job."
- Explain the timeframe of the operation in terms your child understands. Tell them when the procedure is, how long the hospital visit will be, and how much time you can spend with them.
- Encourage your child to talk about the hospital visit and to ask questions. Many books are available at the public library on the subject written at your child's level of comprehension.
- Encourage your child to play with toys related to the hospital (like "doctor's kits").
- Explain that your child will not feel, hear, or see anything during the operation. Reassure them that they will not wake up during the procedure—but will wake up when the operation is over and the doctor stops giving him or them the sleep medicine.
- Explain that your child's medical problem is not a punishment for something they did wrong. Let your child know that many children have the same problem and must get it fixed at the hospital.
- Try to answer questions you don't know the answers to. Tell your child you don't know the answer but will find out. Your child's nurses or doctor should be able to answer any questions for you.
- Promise your child that they will have no pain. Children respond to varying pain levels in different ways and may have some discomfort after the operation. The hospital staff is trained to help your child be comfortable.
- Promise there will be no needles or make any other promises you may be unable to keep.