Whatever the reason, when a child needs surgery, it is a scary time for both parent and child. You child may be afraid of surgery hurting. You may be afraid of life-threatening complications. In order to ensure everyone is emotionally ready, preparation is key.
If you're feeling anxious, your child will pick up on that. Ask plenty of questions of the doctor in order for you to understand the necessity of the surgery, how long it will take, and what you can all expect to happen before, during, and after. Knowledge is power and will help you to help your child feel safe.
Watch Your Words
Your child will likely have a ton of questions for you regarding the surgery. Be sure to answer in terms she can understand and avoid words that may scare her, such as "cut" or "knife." You may thinking telling her that she is brave will help, but that only implies that there is something scary happening that she needs to be brave about, which can scare her even more. As best as you can, explain the surgery from start to finish in simple and non-threatening words.
There are children's books available to help you talk to your child about surgery. Read them in the days leading up to your child's hospital visit and surgery to help ease any fears. Henry Goes for Surgery is a popular one.
Take a Tour
Hospitals usually allow people to take a tour in order to feel more comfortable about where they will be during their surgery and hospital stay. This can help your child to be more at ease on the day of her surgery.
Let your child help you pack for the hospital stay and make sure to allow her to bring her favorite toy, stuffed animal, doll or books. Having items with her that remind her of home and make her feel safe will be a comfort for her both before and after her operation.
No one can be 100% prepared for surgery, especially a child. But taking the time to make sure she feels as safe and comfortable as possible will make the entire process easier for both of you.