Parental participation in paediatric postoperative care is common in China. However, the knowledge is limited on what methods parents use to relieve their children's postoperative pain in hospital. The purpose of this study was to describe what nonpharmacological methods parents use to relieve their children's postoperative pain and factors related to this. A previously validated Scandinavian questionnaire survey was conducted in five provincial hospitals in Fujian, China, in 2004. Parents (n = 206) whose children had undergone operation were asked to complete questionnaires concerning nonpharmacological methods for children's pain relief. The response rate was 88%. Results show that the most commonly used methods by parents were emotional support strategies, helping with daily activities, distraction and imagery. Breathing technique was the method used least frequently. Fathers and parents who were older, more educated, employed and with earlier hospitalization experience with their children used pain alleviation methods more frequently than mothers and parents without these characteristics. Moreover, parents used some methods more frequently with boys, younger children, as well as children admitted for selective operations, with longer duration of hospitalization and with moderate or severe pain. Parents utilized various nonpharmacological methods for children's pain relief, especially those easy to use. This study may serve to focus healthcare providers’ efforts on educating parents with respect to various nonpharmacological pain alleviation methods available for postoperative pain. Furthermore, this study provides parents an opportunity to be aware of their role in their children's pain management.