4 Steps in Managing Your Child’s Anxiety Before and After Surgery

For a parent whose child must undergo orthopaedic surgery, you are probably just as frightened as they are. Depending the child’s age, there are different ways to approach the stress of the situation and how much to share with them. Following are some tips for helping to manage a child’s surgery stress.

Be Calm and Confident

Children are a mirror to your emotions so showing your confidence and positivity regarding surgery gives the right cue. Focus on the result, and use phrases that are encouraging, such as “You’ll feel so much better soon!” The more the child associates the orthopaedic surgery with a good event, the less stress they’ll have anticipating it. After surgery, help recovery by concentrating on activities they can do once healed.

Take a Tour

A major surgery-related stress for a child is fear of the unknown. Many hospitals offer a pre-surgery tour for children. Introducing them to the facility on a less intimidating day and turning it into a fun experience will make operating day more comfortable. Allowing the child to see their healers before they’re being poked and prodded can reduce the child’s anxiety considerably.

Explain and Answer

Depending upon how old your child is and how well they understand information should dictate how you explain the surgery and its recovery to them. For most children, calmly explaining the reason for the orthopaedic surgery and what they can expect to happen before, during, and after the procedure will take the mystery and fear out of the equation. Once they see that things are happening as you predicted, they’re much more at ease. Encourage them to ask questions, and do your best to answer them honestly, being aware of your phrasing when you respond.

Allow Control

When it is time for the surgery, a great tactic in reducing anxiety is to let your child make some choices. Ask them what they’d like to pack, or what favorite toy they’d like to bring. Ask what food they’d like upon their return home. Placing some of the control back in the child’s hands builds their confidence and removes some of the fear from the situation.

Orthopaedic surgery is not a day at the zoo, but it doesn’t have to be a terrifying event for a child or for you. Talk to the surgeon for more tips on managing your child’s surgical anxiety before and after the procedure.

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