It can be difficult to talk to your family and friends about your chronic illness, but talking to your children takes an even more careful approach. Children are often naturally inquisitive, and may ask very personal questions or seek understanding on certain aspects of your condition. It’s crucial to present information to your children and answer their questions in a way that eases any concern they may feel, while still conveying what you feel and experience as a result of your condition.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a chronic illness, use these strategies to talk to your children about it.
Consider Their Ages
The conversation you have with a 17-year-old child is going to be very different than the one you have with a four-year-old. While a teenager may be able to handle a similar conversation as you’d have with a full-fledged adult, younger children might benefit more from a different approach. You know your kid best, so consider what they can understand and what they can handle, and try to frame the conversation in age-appropriate terms.
For instance, a teenager might understand the symptom of fatigue with no further explanation, but you might have to try a different tactic with a five-year-old. Instead, try explaining things in simpler terms such as “feeling sleepy” so they can understand better. Additionally, comparing your symptoms to certain feelings they may have experienced can be helpful for them to empathize with your condition. For example, you could compare fatigue to how they feel after running around the soccer field for an hour.
Make it a Need to Know Basis
The truth is, your kids probably don’t need to know every single detail of your illness. So, you should focus on getting across the aspects of your condition that affect them. If you’re going to have days where you can’t pick them up, or run around outside with them, they need to understand that it’s because of your chronic illness and not just because you don’t feel like it. Put an emphasis on making sure they feel loved, and you’ll be on the right track.
Let Them Lead the Conversation
Giving your kids free reign to ask questions is a good way to let them lead the conversation into territory they’re comfortable with. If you’re unsure of where to go after you’ve given them the basics, encourage them to ask about what they’re curious as a way to pinpoint what they need to understand. Then, you can use their questions as a baseline to explain more about aspects of your condition they may want deeper understanding of.
Get Them On Your Team
Little kids often love to help, so try to give your kids ways that they can help you when you’re dealing with flare-ups. Not only does this make them feel like they have a sense of importance and responsibility, but also helps you practically when facing symptoms or a flare-up.
Similarly, even though your preteens and teens may balk at doing typical chores, they’re very likely to rise to the occasion to help you with your health condition. Focus on making them feel appreciated and valued — like an adult. And remember, teens often appreciate having their growing independence acknowledged, so, if you’re comfortable with it, consider allowing them some freedoms as a reward and acknowledgment for the responsibilities they take on.
Treatment at IVX Health
If your treatment regimen includes biologic infusion treatments such as Remicade or Ocrevus, consider IVX Health for your infusions. We offer appointments that fit your schedule (days, evenings and weekends) in comfortable private suites so you can enjoy your time while receiving treatment. Each patient suite also features comfortable guest seating if your kids are curious about infusion or injection treatment for your chronic condition.