Helping Your School-age Child Cope With Pain After Surgery

School-age children may be more verbal than infants and toddlers, but you still need to know symptoms of pain and how to help kids this age cope.

How to tell if your school-age child is in pain

If your school-age child is in pain, he may show it by:

  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Not eating or drinking as much as usual
  • Crying or moaning
  • Showing less interest in playing
  • Being less active, lying quietly or curling up in bed
  • Being restless
  • Complaining of pain
  • Holding or protecting the area that hurts

How you can help your school-age child 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:
    • Dimming the lights.
    • Staying with your child as much as possible; if you have to leave, let her know what time you'll be back.
    • Bringing her favorite toys and objects from home.
    • Providing quiet time.
    • Talking in a soothing voice.
  • Use your touch:
    • Use gentle and firm touch to provide comfort and security. Try massaging his body in firm, slow motion.
    • Hold him.
    • Hold his hand.
    • Offer lots of hugs.
  • Distract him. Help her focus on something other than her pain by:
    • Playing her favorite music.
    • Blowing bubbles.
    • Talking or singing to her in a soothing voice.
    • Telling her to take slow deep breaths.
    • Reading a book.
    • Talking with her about her favorite place or memory.
    • Playing a game or watching television together.
    • Offering your child your hand or something soft to squeeze.
    • Helping her do art projects, draw or color.

Next Steps