Is Your Child Having Surgery? Read These Tips.

Kids like to run and jump, play sports, and rough house. These are all great ways to keep them active and wear off energy, but they can also lead to injuries like broken bones, torn ligaments, strains, and sprains. If your child does sustain an injury, and it requires a surgical treatment, hearing the word “surgery” might be scary for your child – and your whole family. Here are some tips from our staff to help your child feel more comfortable and prepared for surgery.

Before Surgery

Once it’s determined that your child needs surgery, begin to help your child feel confident about the experience. One way to do this is to make sure you – as the parent or guardian – understand as much as you can about the surgery. Our staff is available to answer questions and get you more information. This will not only reduce your nerves about the procedure, but you will also be able to help answer questions your child may ask.

When questions pop up that you can’t answer, see if your child would like to ask the surgeon or nurse the question themselves. This will help them feel involved and may help reduce some anxiety.

Make sure to have open and honest discussions with your child. Ask questions to figure out what they might be nervous about and how you might be able to help. For example:

  • What do you think will be the hardest part about having surgery?
  • Is there anything about surgery that makes you feel scared or nervous?
  • What do you think will be the easiest part about having surgery?

As you have these discussions, use language and wording that your child will understand. For example, when explaining anesthesia to a younger child, say that the doctor will help them take a nap during surgery instead of “the doctor will put you to sleep.” Since children understand what naps are, they may be less afraid of going in to the procedure.

Other things to help your child feel more comfortable leading up to surgery:

  • Use books or pictures to show what the doctors and nurses will be wearing, like scrubs, gloves, and masks.
  • Use play to explain what will happen. Maybe conduct a pretend surgery with one of their stuffed animals.
  • Watch this virtual tour with your child so everyone is more familiar with the surgery center.

Day of Surgery

A tough thing for children on the day of surgery is not being able to eat or drink anything. If you are the parent or guardian taking them to the surgery center, maybe do this step with them so that they don’t feel left out or like they are being punished. Before leaving home, have your child pick out a toy to bring with them.

When you arrive at the surgery center, show your child where you will be waiting so they know you won’t be too far away.

After Surgery

As the anesthesia wears off, your child can feel tired, restless, and irritable for up to 24-48 hours. You will need to be with them during this time. As your child’s appetite returns, make sure to have healthy and easily digestible foods on hand such as:

  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt
  • Bananas

The surgery center will provide pain medications in an appropriate does for your child – based on weight. However, you will need to talk with your child about pain so you can properly manage it. A registered nurse from the surgery center will call the day after surgery to see how your child is doing. If you have questions or concerns, you can always call the surgery staff at 920-569-4300 or your OSMS physician and nurse at 920-430-8113.