When your Toddler Needs Surgery

Last winter, we discovered my eldest son had a lump on his back. During roughhousing, playing and tickling we would run our hand over this spot and he would complain of it hurting. After a few Doctor check-ups, and a visit to the pediatric surgeon we scheduled the date for the extraction. But, as this was my first time dealing with such things, how would I prepare him for the procedure?

As time went on, we found the best way to prepare him was to explain it in kid friendly terms, keeping the descriptions as simple as possible. We had him meet his surgeon, and used the terms Sleep Doctor, nurse, and kept answering the same questions over and over. By keeping it simple, he was able to slowly accept what would happen even if he was afraid of it.

If you visit your library, there are a few books that can help illustrate the procedures: The Surgery Book for Kids, Curious George Goes to the Hospital, Going to the Hospital by Fred Rogers. These can help illustrate and explain how things work, what he will see, smell and touch, who he will come in contact with and how Mom and Dad will be there when they wake up.

We visited the clinic, explained how he would go in, see his doctor, received some medicine and take a long nap. When he would wake, his shoulder might be sore but it would be finished and his lump would be gone. By having dissolvable stitches and pre anesthesia, he felt nothing and his stitches did not hurt.

I found the best way to help him understand was to talk about the procedure–to answer the questions over and over again no matter how many times they ask. This helps the child process the event, knowing that it will not change no matter how many times they ask.

After the procedure was finished, my big guy was just fine. In fact, the toughest part was keeping him from overdoing it and opening his stitches!

Pia Watzig is a stay-at-home mom to three crazy boys who keep her laughing and on her toes. She attempts to stay sane in Portland, Oregon.

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