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Preparing Your Teen for Surgery

Child Life and Therapeutic Arts Programs

Before Surgery – Teens (13+ Years Old)

Talk to the healthcare team to make sure you understand your teen’s condition and how to support him or her before surgery. You’ll be more relaxed and better able to offer comfort and reassurance.

What are teens typically concerned about before surgery?

  • Being dependent on others
  • How surgery may change appearances
  • How surgery may make them different than their friends

How can I help my teen manage any concerns and the surgery experience?

  • Be honest and keep your teen involved in care. Teens want to be involved and feel like you hear and understand their views and concerns. They need to know and understand what to expect and how it affects the body and areas that are being treated. Being truthful and accurate with your teen is important when delivering sensitive information. Your teen may become frustrated and angry if there is a sense that trust has been broken.
  • Encourage emotional outlets. Journaling can be a great way for teens to express thoughts and feelings. Music and art are also ways for teens to process the healthcare experience.
  • Involve friends in the process. Video chatting, phone calls and text messages can be a great way to keep family and friends involved in the hospital experience. You may want to ask them to write letters to your teen as a way to keep them connected.  
  • Maintain your teen’s privacy while in the hospital. Be respectful and mindful of your teen’s desire to have privacy in the hospital setting. Teens are often protective of their thoughts, feelings and bodies.
  • Encourage questions, research and conversations. Teens may appear to understand more than they actually do. Ask your teen to share his or her understanding of the experience so you can fill any gaps or correct any misconceptions.
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