So you’ve decided to undergo weight loss surgery and need to explain it to your children. Here are some tips that’ll help you do just that.
Are you considering weight loss surgery for yourself or a loved one in the family? This decision can be a challenging one since there are requirements for doing so.
Many doctors require people to be within a weight range, as being too heavy can impose life-threatening risks.
Some physicians ask that the child is within an older range, such as in puberty before performing any bariatric procedure for younger patients.
Any medical condition or procedure can be explained to children as long as they can comprehend and are developmentally ready.
Dr. Carlos A. Barba, a highly recognized general and bariatric surgeon from Brownsville, TX, experienced having younger patients and children having emotional reactions when their caregivers undergo procedures.
How can you best explain to your child if any loved one will be undergoing weight loss surgery in these life-changing moments?
Tips To Help You Explain Weight Loss Surgery To Children
In this article, Dr. Carlos A. Barba shares insights into fully explaining weight loss surgery to children that will help them stay calm yet rightly informed during the whole process.
1. Use Age-Appropriate Language
Age-appropriate language means explaining the whole content but using the vocabulary level that your child can comprehend.
Suppose you are explaining the procedure to a 4-year-old. In that case, you can use terms such as “needing to go to the hospital” or “helping the tummy get better.”
If you explain to an older child such as 12-15 years old, you can already use technical words, especially if they are going through the procedure.
Using age-appropriate language is helpful as it helps them to become familiar with the whole process while allowing them to actively participate during the recovery stages.
You do not need to minimize or conceal what potential things can go on during surgery. By explaining tactfully and clearly, you can lessen worries, and negative reactions as any person in the family go through surgery.
2. Include The Reasons And Benefits Of Surgery
Another important component of explaining weight loss surgery is the reasons and benefits for undergoing such procedures.
Some children can be hesitant or scared on behalf of their loved ones, but Dr. Carlos A. Barba assures that most will turn calm once the process is explained in light of the advantages.
Some reasons and benefits to highlight are:
Younger children: You can focus on mobility, go more places, and enjoy facilities with fewer challenges and worries. You can also highlight being healthier, living longer, and spending more time together.
Older children: You can focus on bariatric surgery being the first step towards a healthier lifestyle, allowing lesser food intake. For some, the procedure can be explained as a life-saving operation, especially in patients who are experiencing complications of obesity.
Children are more likely to openly accept the situation when the reasons and benefits of doing the procedure relating to them.
3. Setting Realistic Expectations
There should also be room to explain the procedure in a realistic light, such as expectations during the recovery stage.
Dr. Carlos A. Barba recommends including one’s state after the surgery, such as needling periods of rest and recovery.
The patient may not be able to eat the food prepared as usual during the first few weeks up to a month, or mobility might be limited until the body is completely healed.
By sharing these expectations with children, they will be less worried or disappointed when recovery does not go as fast as expected.
They may want to go out, spend time doing activities or enjoy meals with you. But letting them know ahead that these may not happen right away puts them in an appropriate frame of mind.
4. Explain How They Can Participate In Weight-Loss Surgery Success
Whoever the patient is, everyone can play an active role in helping weight loss surgery succeed. Some ways you can suggest to children that they can do to assist in the bariatric surgery success include the following:
Providing Moral And Emotional Support
If the patient is a family member, you can explain that they may need some encouragement during challenging times.
When triggers such as stress and other life events occur, children are welcome to provide verbal and emotional support for the patient.
Aiding In Managing Triggers
Unhealthy habits can also persist when the patient cannot manage internal and external triggers.
Children can take an active role in trigger management by changing the environment for the patient, reminding them of healthy habits, and even serving as role models when needed.
Recovering patients may also benefit from external motivation through companionship, such as joining them in physical activities.
Children can participate in sports or exercise to enjoy quality time with the patient.
Weight Loss Surgery Success: Involving All Family Members, Even Children
All patients can stay motivated with the whole support of the family, including children. By explaining the entire process of weight loss surgery to the young ones, they can stay calm and take an active role in their loved one’s health and even their own.