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Common Behaviour Changes

You may see changes in how your child behaves the first few days after surgery. These changes are common reactions to having surgery and being in the hospital. Your child may:

  • have a change in eating patterns
  • return to past behaviours (thumb-sucking, temper tantrums, using a soother, toileting accidents, bed wetting)
  • have sleeping problems such as nightmares, sleeping a lot or having trouble falling asleep
  • fear being away from you, even for short periods of time
  • want or need more of your attention or time; be demanding or cranky; become withdrawn or clingy

Although these reactions are normal, it is important to help your child work through them. If you find these changes last for more than 4-6 weeks, please talk to your child's doctor. Here are some things you can do to help:

  • encourage your child to talk about the surgery and being in the hospital, to help your child understand what has happened
  • be patient and understanding
  • return to your child's normal routine at home, especially for meals and bedtime
  • help your child express feelings through play activities like painting, drawing, playing doctor or nurse
  • reassure your child that being in the hospital can be upsetting