“Can I keep my tonsils after the doctor takes them out?”
“Do I have to get a shot?”
“Why do all the doctors wear hats?”
As a child life specialist these are just a few of the questions I am asked on a daily basis by children preparing to have surgery. When talking with children about their questions, my goal is to help them better understand the hospital experience in order to decrease their anxiety and increase their understanding.
I use stories, pictures, and encourage play with medical equipment to help children become more familiar with the surgery process and the associated sensory experiences (what they will see, smell, feel, etc…). Research has shown children cope better when they are given accurate and developmentally appropriate information regarding their medical experience.
With this in mind, the Child Life Department has developed a tool for caregivers to use at home to assist in preparing their child for his or her surgery. An online photo tour is now available through the Texas Children’s website. Follow “Mary” and her stuffed doggy as they meet doctors, talk to a child life specialist, go back to the operating room, and eat popsicles in recovery.
To access the photo tour please visit the Preparing Your Child for Surgery page on the Texas Children’s Hospital website. Here you’ll also find helpful hints about making your child’s surgery experience a positive one. Once at the hospital, you may ask to speak with a child life specialist who can enhance your child’s understanding by tailoring information to their specific surgical experience, developmental age and anxiety level. We would love to meet you!