How to Help Your Child Prepare for Heart Surgery

AdobeStock_59160585Pediatric heart surgery can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for both your child and your family. You may be concerned about how best to approach discussing the surgery with your child, such as when to tell your child and what words to use.

The specifics on how you discuss their pediatric heart surgery with them will depend on their age and level of development.

Share Information Appropriately

A child’s personality, language development and ability to comprehend information can all affect their understanding of the heart surgery and hospitalization. Regardless of their age, keep explanations simple and wait for them to ask questions to understand their concerns.

Let Your Child Know They’re Not Alone

It’s important for your child to know that they won’t be going through their heart surgery alone. Make sure to tell your child at the beginning who will be staying with them while they’re in the hospital. To reinforce this, after you and your child finish packing a suitcase for the hospital stay, take them into your room to help you pack your suitcase.

For a very young child, look for mood changes and worried facial expressions in order to address those feelings even if your child can’t express them verbally.

Take the time to also create a dialogue between your child and their siblings and friends. It can be difficult for children to grasp the concept of surgery, so it can be a helpful opportunity to reassure them.

Choose the Best Time to Talk

You should choose a strategic time to talk to your child about their pediatric heart surgery. Choose a time when they’re relaxed and feeling reflective, and make sure to be completely present in the conversation so you can answer their questions, or write them down to ask their doctor later.