Preparing Your School-age Child for Surgery

If your school-age child is having surgery, you'll be better able to prepare him if you know what he's worried about and how you can help.

What is your child concerned about?

  • He's worried about losing control, as well as saying or doing embarrassing things
  • He fears his body will be damaged and that surgery will change the way he looks
  • He's scared he'll wake up during the surgery

How can you help prepare your school-age child?

  • Give him a good bit of prep time, at least one to two weeks ahead. Offer details about events before, during and after surgery. Explain there's a special doctor whose job is to make sure that patients do not feel anything during the procedure.
  • Be supportive and honest, and treat your child as normally as possible. He may become angry or quiet in anticipation of surgery; that's normal. Reassure him and encourage him to talk about what he's feeling.
  • Read all about it. Find an age-appropriate book about going to the hospital and read it with him. 
  • Check for understanding. School-age children will listen carefully, but may not understand all that was said, so have your child explain back to you what's going to happen in the hospital.
  • Involve friends. Encourage your child's friends to visit the hospital, or to keep in touch with your child via telephone, text, email and cards.

Next Steps