Talking about surgery
Child Life Specialists have created helpful tips for preparing your child for surgery at any age. We realize that every child’s needs are different and vary based on age, environment and family situation.
Infants & Toddlers (age 0-2): A toddler’s understanding of time is far different than that of adults. Because of this, Banner Thunderbird’s experts suggest telling your child about his or her surgery only a few days in advance. Child Life Specialists recommend bringing comfort items for your child such as blankets, pacifiers or a favorite doll or stuffed animal.
Preschoolers (age 3-5): Preschoolers are often curious about their surroundings and what is happening. It is important to tell your preschooler a few days to a week in advance about his or her surgery and carefully explain what will be happening. Do not hesitate to answer any questions about the surgery your child may have. Child Life Specialists recommend using words such as “fix” or “make it better” when explaining why your child needs surgery.
School age (age 6-10): Children in grade school should be informed about surgery at least a week in advance. Banner Thunderbird recommends explaining the process of what will happen the day of surgery. Explain to your child that there is a special doctor to make sure your child stays asleep during the surgery and does not feel pain. Also, encourage your child to ask the surgical team at Banner Thunderbird any questions he or she has during pre-surgery visits.
Teens: Teens should be informed and part of the decision-making process from the beginning. Banner Thunderbird encourages teens to ask their pediatric surgeons and surgical team any questions they may have as well as be part of the decision-making process. Child Life Specialists at Banner Thunderbird understand how important it is to teens to maintain their independence, privacy and sense of control.