Generally, it is difficult for parents or guardians to tell children that they must undergo surgery. This situation may vary depending on the age and condition of the child.

Most children are confronted at some point with the subject of surgery, either by a family member or by the patient themselves, going through a stage of preoperative stress.

The health personnel can guide the person in charge of the child on how to explain the child’s condition and the measures to be taken for the physical preparation required for the surgery. In spite of this, it is common for the family member to feel confused and not know how to express him/herself in front of the child, or what actions should be avoided in front of him/her in order not to create panic.

For this reason, the psychological preparation of the relatives and the patient is essential for the optimal development of the surgical intervention.

Psychological preparation of the relative

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It is normal that the news affects you emotionally as a parent or relative of the child, however, you should calm down, seek information about the procedure to be performed on the child, try not to be alarmed if there are risks and do not lose hope or get carried away by the preoperative stress and worry.

Many people find help for their emotions through prayer and faith that things can go well. And you need to be aware that surgery can be performed and have positive or negative results, but you should never lose faith, which is the certainty of what is expected despite the circumstances.

Another way to deal with the situation is to look for didactic help, you can find various sources and content that will help you.

Currently, the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP) has elaborated a program of psychological preparation for child surgery. It covers important topics: recommendations for parents and tips to calm the child.

It is important that you have a calm countenance when you are in contact with the child, it may be difficult, but it is essential to avoid situations such as crying or despair in front of the child. In this way, you will not create a negative emotional contagion, as psychology calls it.

Psychological preparation of the child

You can try to show your little one a video of another child telling his post-operative experience, you can tell him: look, he is a child like you.

Or you could motivate him with words of encouragement: Everything is going to be fine! you don’t have to be afraid, mom is with you. Or, surgery is a procedure where you will be given anesthesia, it won’t hurt.

Many times children’s fear is rooted in the pain they may feel, so you should inform yourself adequately to answer all questions in a simple way.

During the pre-operative period you can perform activities that divert the attention of the child and avoid stress, you can resort to toys, singing or telling an animated story. You can also create a secret password that will make him feel always close to you; for example, when the child is taken to the operating room, he will remember that, if he interlaces his hands, you will be doing the same wherever he is and he will feel safer.