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Patients and Visitors

Preparing Your Child

Our Preparation Program

We can help you prepare your child through our Children’s Preparation Program. To learn more, call 612-672-7272 or 1-800-824-1953. 

We provide:

  • A play kit and other materials to help your child get ready for his/her visit (mailed to your home)
  • A list of children’s books about hospitals and surgery
  • Hospital tours
  • Child-Family Life specialists, who can support your child and help answer your questions
  • To help both children and parents feel more comfortable and prepared during their time at the hospital, Child-Family Life Services has created a series of videos designed to explain the hospital and what to expect during a visit.

Preparing Your Child at Different Ages

It can be hard to know what to say and how to prepare your child for surgery. Below are some simple ideas that can help.

For younger children:

  • Schedule a hospital tour.
  • Read books on doctors and hospitals.
  • Play “hospital” with your child, perhaps using a toy medical kit.
  • Talk to your child. Use simple descriptions and avoid scary words.
  • When your child loses interest, he or she is done learning for that moment. Try again later.
  • Be informed and calm. Your child trusts you, feels what you feel and watches your reactions.

For school-aged children:

  • Schedule a hospital tour.
  • Read or provide books about doctors and hospitals.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions. Find out what he or she wants to know; some children want to know everything while others want to know very little.
  • Describe for your child what and how things will happen (sights, sounds, smells).
  • Use non-scary words, giving honest and reassuring answers to the child’s questions.
  • Give your child time to think. Later, ask if he or she is wondering about anything or has any questions.
  • Be informed and calm. You shape your child’s beliefs.
  • Assure your child that we will help him or her every step of the way.

For teens:

  • Involve teens in their health care planning.
  • Provide information about the surgery and why it is needed. Be well-informed when you talk with your teen, and offer helpful written information. Many teens will search the Internet as well.
  • Give your teen time to think and ask questions.
  • Be patient, honest and available to talk about their concerns.
  • Help your teen identify his or her feelings. Remember, teen attitudes often hide fears that can be hard to put into words.
  • Give encouragement. Express faith in how well your teen will handle the surgery. 
  • Be calm. Assure your teen that no matter what, all will work out for the best.
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