It is relatively common for young children who undergo surgery to have some fear or apprehension of medical professionals after their treatment. For some children, this can make future visits to the doctor difficult. However, there are several things you can do as a parent that will help reduce the likelihood that your child will develop a strong phobia of the doctor's office or medical professionals after their treatment.
Explain Their Treatment Thoroughly
Doctors are torn on this. Some doctors think it is better to tell young children the bare minimum about their procedure, so the child will not be frightened before the surgery. Others think that telling the child exactly what they can expect will help the child feel empowered. This is ultimately a decision the parent should make, as you are likely to know how your child will react to an unknown situation as opposed to a known but slightly frightening situation. Not explaining what will happen beforehand can make your child distrustful of medical environments, always wondering if they are really going in for another surgery even though you say it is just a checkup.
Have a Positive Recovery Experience
If your child is under general anesthesia, you should be there for them as they wake up. Offer to give them plenty of cuddles and make sure they know they are okay. Also, consider having an exciting new toy, game, or book for them to play with as they recover. This can make them associate the hospital with their new present as opposed to their surgery.
Take Them to the Doctor's Soon After Discharge
After a traumatic event, it is important to expose your child to medical professionals in a positive way so they do not develop negative associations. Consider taking your child in for a simple physical exam or a conversation with their primary doctor after their recovery. If they still seem nervous about the environment, try another non-invasive visit before you have to take your child in for treatment, vaccines, or an illness.
Choosing a friendly, experienced surgical team will help your child have a positive surgical experience. Additionally, going to a children's surgical center with a more colorful, inviting atmosphere will help ease their anxiety. However, there are several things that you should do as a parent to ensure your child continues to feel good about going to the doctor after they have an invasive procedure. For more information, contact a child surgical center.