Pediatric Pre-Surgery Education

Children who are appropriately prepared for surgery tend to have less anxiety and fear. Parents also play an important role in how a child copes with a surgical experience.

What to Expect From Your Surgery at Beaumont Children's


Pre-Surgery Program (Royal Oak and Troy)

Surgical Safari is a one-hour interactive program that teaches children and parents about what it means to have surgery. This fun, hands-on presentation is intended to answer common questions about the surgical experience and to help reduce anxiety for families at what can be a very stressful time.

The program is presented by surgical staff at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak and at Beaumont Hospital, Troy. It is open to children (ages 3 to 18 in Royal Oak and 3 to 12 in Troy) and their parents or guardians.

Your Surgical Safari will include a video about what to expect on the day of surgery and visits to the pre-operative area and an operating room to touch and see special equipment. The program will answer many common questions, including:

  • What should I bring to the hospital?
  • Who will I meet at the hospital?
  • Where will the surgery take place?
  • What should I do the day of my child's surgery?

"I have found that the Surgical Safari program provides a tremendous benefit to patients and their families. The tour helps alleviate anxiety because when the family does come in for the surgery it is no longer a brand new experience," says Jeffrey Settecerri, M.D., pediatric orthopedic surgeon.

Please take this class at the hospital your child will be having surgery at - either Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak or Beaumont Hospital, Troy.


Good preparation involves clear explanations and age-appropriate information:

Infant to 2 years old

Parents play an important role in the success of a child's surgical experience. Children who are appropriately prepared for surgery tend to have less anxiety and fear. Good preparation involves clear explanations and age-appropriate information.

In most cases, being allowed to explore the waiting room and pre-op room, and to touch medical equipment and supplies immediately before their surgery is sufficient preparation for this age group.

The guidelines below may be helpful as you and your family prepare for your child's surgery.

  • Parents of infants should prepare themselves emotionally for the upcoming surgery.
  • Ask questions and educate yourself about the procedure scheduled for your child. Once you know what to expect, you will be more relaxed. Children as young as six months watch their parents for emotional cues to interpret an unfamiliar situation. If you are relaxed and comfortable, your child is more likely to be relaxed and comfortable.
  • As a parent, you know your child best. Please be sure to share with staff what comforts your child, how he likes to be held, eating habits, etc.
  • Use simple language when talking to your child about surgery.
  • Bring your child's favorite comfort item(s) from home (i.e. blanket, stuffed animal, pacifier, soft music, etc.).
  • Babies often have a hard time being separated from their parents. Reassure your child you will be close by and as soon as the surgery is over you will be next to him again.

Children in this age group often have a hard time waiting prior to surgery in the pre-op room. Many parents find that lowering the stimulation in the room and providing comforting items can help soothe their child. Consider turning down the lights in the room, wrapping your child in a warm blanket and playing soft music.

2 to 5 years old

Parents play an important role in how a child copes with a surgical experience. Children who are appropriately prepared for surgery tend to have less anxiety and fear. Good preparation involves clear explanations and age-appropriate information.

The guidelines below may be helpful as you and your family prepare for your child's surgery.

  • Explain the basics of how an IV works, waking up in the recovery room and when your child will be reunited with her parents.
  • Children at this age don't need a lot of details. Use simple language when talking to your child about surgery.
  • Children may see surgery as punishment for something. Offer reassurance that she did nothing wrong and that surgery is designed to help her feel better.
  • Play with medical kits and dress up like a doctor before surgery.
  • Your child can be given "jobs" to encourage positive cooperation.
    - "Your job will be to eat a popsicle when your surgery is done."
    - "Remember, your job is not to touch your IV."
  • Review coping strategies such as deep breathing, singing, or distraction using bubbles, books or magic wands.
  • Use clues to remind your child what will happen next. For example, "When the IV is out, you will get a band-aid and then you can put on your own clothes and go home."
  • Allow time for questions from child. Listen closely to identify fears and misconceptions. Clear up any misconceptions and support your child with comfort.
  • Reassure your child that you will be with her in the hospital and that she will go home when the surgery is over.
  • Encourage your child to choose one or two toys or other personal items to bring to the hospital.
  • Invite your child to explore the surgical surroundings, toys in the waiting room and medical equipment.

6 to 11 years old

Parents play an important role in how a child copes with a surgical experience. Children who are appropriately prepared for surgery tend to have less anxiety and fear. Good preparation involves clear explanations and age-appropriate information.

Children in this age group can understand and master more information than their younger counterparts. They should be prepared for surgery at least one week prior to going to the hospital. You know your child best. Some children like to hear a lot of information, while others just want to hear the basic facts.

The guidelines below may be helpful as you and your family prepare for your child's surgery.

  • Tell your child why he is having surgery.
  • Talk about the type of surgery he will have and where on the body it will be performed.
  • Tell your child that he will be asleep during the surgery and that he will not be able to see, hear or feel anything during the procedure.
  • Remind your child that he will not be able to eat or drink anything the morning of surgery.
  • Reassure your child that you will be with him while he is at the hospital.
  • Suggest your child bring one or two items from home, for comfort and to keep busy.
  • Remind your child about how long he will be in the hospital.
  • Remember that children at this age can understand some basic information about body systems and how the procedure will help them.
  • Pictures are often more descriptive than words.
  • Children this age are hoping to gain independence and take more responsibility for their care. Allow your child opportunities to participate.
  • Give truthful information.
  • Children in this age group often have fears about their bodies being hurt. They also may be confused about anesthesia. Clarify and clear up any misconceptions.

Adolescents

Parents play an important role in how a child copes with a surgical experience. Children who are appropriately prepared for surgery tend to have less anxiety and fear. Good preparation involves clear explanations and age-appropriate information.

Adolescents should be included in all discussions of the surgery. In an age when they are beginning to gain independence, surgery can sometimes make teens feel more dependent and cause parents to become more protective. Be respectful of their privacy while maintaining a supportive relationship.

The guidelines below may be helpful as you and your family prepare for your child's surgery.

  • Discuss the reason for surgery with your child.
  • Discuss the type of surgery and where on the body it will be performed.
  • Suggest your teen bring items from home to keep busy while waiting in the pre-op room.
  • Remind your adolescent that she will be meeting many people in the pre-op room, including the nurse, anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist, circulating nurse and the surgeon.
  • Review with your teen that she will not be awake during the surgery and that staff will be with her during the entire procedure to ensure she remains asleep until it is all over.
  • Discuss the importance of not eating or drinking the morning of surgery.
  • Reassure your teen that you will remain in the hospital during her surgery and that you will see her in the recovery room.
  • Encourage your teen to ask questions and express how she is feeling.