How to Relax When Your Child Has to Undergo Major Surgery

When your child has to undergo major surgery, it’s completely normal for both you and your child to feel anxious and nervous. Being overly worried and fearful will not resolve anything, though. Your child will need you to be calm and reassuring, which you won’t be able to do very well if you’re riddled with worry.

Reliving Anxiety Before Your Child’s Surgery

Being relaxed, particularly in the presence of your child, is crucial to your child’s state of mind before surgery. Sam Golden, M.D., of Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago, explains to parents on the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia website: “When you are comfortable and confident, your child will likely be also. Be careful not to apologize to your child for the decision to undergo surgery or give an excessive amount of reassurance. Instead, be matter of fact about the surgery; this will diminish worry and fear.”

There are lots of ways parents have learned to cope with their anxiety before their child has surgery. Often, merely focusing on helping your child prepare and being reassuring will take your mind off the worry.

Here are a few other approaches that have worked well for parents: 

  • Be informed. Knowledge reduces anxiety.
  • Ask questions. If you’re unsure of or uncomfortable with something, talk to your child’s surgeon or the hospital staff about it.
  • Take a pre-admission tour. Ask the hospital if you and your child can take an operating tour with a child life specialist, which Dr. Golden notes some hospitals now offer. Some specialists will allow children to become familiar with equipment such as the face mask, stethoscope, IVs, etc. so the whole process will be less frightening for them. It’ll also give you a chance to ask questions of your own.


Relaxation Techniques to Nix Pre-Surgery Jitters

Some parents find that simple relaxation techniques can help create a more peaceful mindset if their child is struggling with an injury. To keep your anxiety in check, you might try: 

  • deep muscle relaxation;
  • meditation and visualization;
  • exercise and massage;
  • acupuncture; and
  • breathing exercises.


Fear threatens us and paralyzes us, but it’s just an emotion – you can learn to say no to it and choose other emotions instead. A YouTube video, Deb’s OR Flash Mob, recently made headlines because of the brave and inspiring way one woman faced her surgery. She held a flash mob in the operating room just prior to a double mastectomy. Deb shows us how to face our most fearful times with grace and joy. The video definitely is worth viewing.

Taking Care of All the Details

Make sure all the details are taken care of prior to the day of surgery. Speak to your doctor and the hospital staff and request specific information on what to expect before, during and after surgery.

If you have any legal issues around your child’s injury to contend with, e.g., a negligence claim, secure an attorney to help make sure everything runs smoothly. Knowing you’ve got a professional who is diligently working on your behalf will help set your mind at ease.

To speak with a child injury attorney, contact Chalik & Chalik at (855) 529-0269. And if you want more articles geared especially for parents, head on over to the Parents’ Corner we carved out on our blog.