5 Tips for Talking to Your Child about Disease
It is very difficult knowing that your child is being faced by an illness or disease. Not only is it a difficult time for your child – being down with the illness – but it is also a very difficult time for you too, being the parents. Not only are you concerned about your child, the challenges they may have to face during the treatment, changes to their daily routine – you may not know how best to explain to your child that he or she actually has an illness.
Have the Conversation Sooner Rather than Later
Prepare yourself before hand, of the issues that you may have to face when your child asks, “What is wrong with me”. Your child should be informed from before hand about what they are going to face. However, you must always remember that telling them too much, or not enough is something that should be taken care of. They should be told exactly what disease they have, and how difficult or easy it may be to overcome and that you are always there to take care of them, so they don’t have to worry about anything at all. Before going on to share the news, take a deep breath, and let them know. After they are aware of what’s going on, your child will feel less worried and scared when he or she knows what’s going on.
Call the Illness by Its Name
Be honest with your child about the specific diagnosis. Don’t sugarcoat the term or think of it as a big, scary word. Children might not understand what the diagnosis means right away, but they will hear the word spoken by others and it helps for them to get familiar with it. This also takes away fear associated with the word.
Keep Talking to Your Child and Answer any Questions they may have
It may seem difficult at first. You may yourself be quite unaware about the illness, and may not know how much information you can actually tell your child about an illness at once, without leaving them overwhelmed or scared. It’s best to give out details about the illness to your child in small bits rather than explain anything and everything in one go. This is particularly essential for younger children. Children need a few moments to process complex information and they therefore make sense of it at their own pace. It’s important to let the conversation open up over time with a chain of talks. Also, make sure you use simple and straightforward terms to break down the information about your child’s medical state so that it may be easy for them to understand. Give them room to take breaks and ask questions frankly so that your child feels safe and loved.
Provide Reassurance to them, that nothing has changed
It’s not unusual for your child to believe that the illness they have may have been caused by something they may have done wrong. At this point, you need to make it absolutely clear that this isn’t the case. At every step of the treatment, make it clear that highly trained specialists will be providing proper nurturing, care and medication to them, in order to help them get better as soon as possible. It is important that your reassure your child with the fact that you will be close by every step of the way and they have nothing to worry about. The illness they are facing is nothing new, and many people go through it so they’ve got nothing to worry about.
Be Specific about the Impact the Illness Will Have on Your Child and the Family
Let your child know clearly about the implications the illness may have on their routine, as well as time with siblings and other family members. It is highly expected for your child to have multiple questions, such as:
- Will I have to take time off from school to go to doctor’s appointments?
- Will I have to stay overnight in the hospital?
- Who will watch my siblings at home?
- Will I still get to play sports?
- How will the medicine make me feel?
- Will I have to miss school?
- Will my friends not be able to meet me?
- Will I be unable to meet family or friends for a while?
- Will everyone think I am weird?
It is best to prepare your child for what to expect beforehand, as this can go a long way to maintain overall coping and reduce anxiety.
By following these tips, you’ll be prepared to converse effectively with your child and help him or her adjust well to the changes and challenges in advance. For further help and consultancy, feel free to Contact us!