If your preschooler's having surgery, you'll be better able to prepare her if you know what she's worried about and how you can help.
What is your child concerned about?
- She fears damage to her body
- She's afraid she did something wrong to cause the surgery
- She may be imagining things that are far worse than the actual surgery
How can you help prepare your preschooler?
- Give her some prep time. Tell your child about the surgery three to five days in advance.
- Choose your words carefully. Your child will be curious and want to know what to expect, but avoid "double-meaning" words. For instance, don't explain anesthesia by telling your child the doctor is going to put her to sleep; she may be reminded of a pet being "put to sleep" and think she will die. Instead, say: "The doctors will help you take a nap for a few hours."
- Quash her fears. Reassure your child that the surgery is not her fault. Encourage her to express her feelings, and tell her it's OK to cry or be scared.
- Play with her. Try using a play medical kit to help her explore her feelings — and help you spot any misconceptions she may have about the upcoming surgery. Reading books with pictures of medical equipment can also be very helpful.