Helping Your Preschooler Cope With Pain After Surgery

Once you learn to recognize pain symptoms in your preschooler, you can calm him and help him cope.

How you can tell if your preschooler is in pain

If your preschooler's in pain, she may show it by:

  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Not eating or drinking as much as usual
  • Crying or whining more than usual
  • Needing to be held more than usual
  • Being less active, lying quietly, or curling up in bed
  • Being restless
  • Complaining of pain
  • Showing less interest in playing

How you can help your preschooler cope

  • Remember that you're a part of the team. Talk to your child's healthcare team so that you better understand pain and its treatment. Tell them what comforts your child, ask for advice if you need it, and ask questions such as:
    • What kind of pain can I expect my child to have, and for how long?
    • What do I need to know about the pain medications you're giving her?
  • Create a comfortable and safe environment by:
    • Staying with your child as much as possible.
    • Dimming the lights.
    • Providing quiet time.
    • Bringing his favorite toys and things from home.
    • Changing your child's position from time to time.
  • Use your touch:
    • Hold and rock him.
    • Use gentle and firm touch to provide comfort and security. Try massaging his back in firm, slow motion.
    • Hold his hand.
  • Distract her. Help your preschooler focus on something other than the pain by:
    • Playing soft music.
    • Talking or singing to him in a soothing voice.
    • Teaching him to take slow, deep breaths.
    • Reading a book to your child.
    • Talking with him about one of his favorite places or memories.
    • Blowing bubbles.
    • Playing a game or watching television together.
    • Offering your child a special toy or doll to hold.
    • Offering him your hand or a soft toy to squeeze.

Next Steps