1. Explain only what the child’s experience will be.
Include all details, but do not mention anything of what the child will not see, hear, feel, smell or taste. For example, if the child is getting general anesthesia under a mask and a catheter (veinflon) is put in place once the child is already sleeping, it does not make sense to tell the child about the poke. Younger minds cannot distinguish between what is going to happen and what they are going (or not going) to feel.
2. Communicate clearly what the child’s job will be.
It’s important that the child knows what are the tasks he/she must do. For example, in case he/she is going to go under anesthesia using a mask, the job will be to breath deeply. This will take out pressure, as the kid may be thinking in many other responsibilities he/she may have, like staying asleep during surgery. In this case, making he/she stay asleep during surgery it’s Anesthesia’s job, not theirs!
3. Be sure to follow the 5 senses rule.
Use the 5 senses rule to explain, will be often enough for the children, even teens. Explain to the child what he or she will feel on the day of the surgery, taking into account the 5 senses. For example, the surgery room it’s usually cold. Anesthesia usually smells like mint or chocolate (it’s usually administered by mask for children up to 12 years of age). Know more about the surgery protocol in this capsule: How will it the day of surgery be? Step by step.
If the child needs to know more, he/she will ask us.