NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital

Center for Community Health

Preparing Your Child or Teen for Surgery

Surgery and hospitalization can be challenging and stressful for children and families. The fear of the unknown is often heightened by the incredible imagination of a child.

Research has shown that children who have been prepared cope better before, during and after a procedure or surgery. Our team of child life specialists has prepared this guide to help provide your child with information that is appropriate for their developmental abilities.

Simple ways to support your child on the day of surgery

Be Honest: Your child may have questions about their surgery. Sometimes answering these questions can be difficult or intimidating. It is important to be open and honest. For help in answering questions, please see our guides (hyperlink) to preparing your child for surgery.

Stay Calm: We know that this is a difficult time and it can be very stressful for parents, but it is important to stay calm. Children look to you for emotional cues and by staying calm and connecting with your child you can help your child feel safe and secure.

Take Care of Your Needs: One of the most important things you can do is to take care of your own needs on the day of the surgery. Even though your child will be asked not to eat or drink before surgery, it is important that you eat and drink. We suggest doing so before your child wakes up in the morning. Lastly, try to get some rest so that you can support your child on the day of the procedure.

Child life services at the Center for Community Health

If you are looking for additional guidance or have more questions about preparing your child for surgery, our team of child life specialists is available to help support you. A child life specialist is a member of the healthcare team and is trained in child development with expertise in working with children in the healthcare setting. He or she can explain to your child what will happen, and why, in a way that your child will understand. If you would like to speak to a child life specialist, please contact us at 929-470-9185.