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Visiting SickKids

Talking to my children about surgery

We know the thought of a hospital and surgery can be scary and worrisome to many children. We have included some resources to help you talk to your children to help deal with their anxiety and fear.

At SickKids we have Child Life Specialists that are:

  • trained in developmental knowledge and the psychosocial effects of hospitalization on kids and teens. They can help your child learn about what to expect for surgery, and develop coping tools to manage their feelings.
  • able to provide post-operative support, normalization, socialization opportunities as well as getting used to the hospital environment through play

To learn more about our Child Life Specialist department, please visit the Child Life website.

Children respond to hospitalization differently based on their developmental level, previous experiences, temperament, surrounding, and supports.

We can also provide you with a few tips on how to talk to your kids about surgery.

Studies have proven that preparing a child for surgery reduces anxieties and fears and will increase cooperation: "Psychological preparation involves the communication of accurate, developmentally appropriate information in advance of an experience. Information includes reasons for a threatening or painful procedure, the anticipated sequence of events and the sensation that accompany the experience." - Gaynard, Wolfer, Goldberger, Thompson, Redburn and Laidley (1990)

AboutKidsHealth is a resource centre for patients and families at the hospital. To learn more about talking to your children about surgery, please use the resources provided by AboutKidsHealth.ca: