Parent Skill #10 — Helping your child know how to explain their illness to others

Not only is it a challenge for kids to learn to live with a chronic illness; it is also a challenge to know what to say to others. Many kids want to ignore the topic, wishing it would just go away. Obviously, that will not happen, so helping your child know how and what to tell others about their diagnosis will help. Role-playing is a good way for your child to practice possible scenarios and explanations.

Boy in hospital. Many kids worry about teasing and rejection by peers. Usually, peers are understanding and supportive if they ave accurate information about the illness and treatment. Encourage your child to be open with their friends in order to minimize questions and teasing.

Many hospitals have staff members who will go to the school to talk to peers about a child's diagnosis and challenges. Your child might choose to help the health care professional, teach their classmates. Alternatively, your child might prefer to be absent during this discusion. Either way is fine.

You also might prepare your child for the possibility of unkind comments or teasing. Role-playing can be an effective way to prepare your child. Ignoring the teaser, responsing directly to the teasing, and enlisting the support of classmates can be helpful techniques to minimize such behaviors.

It is worth remembering that teasing, rejection and unkind comments are very rare when classmates feel that they are part of the team caring for the child, rather than being left on the outside with unanswered questions and concerns. Once again, education is an essential part of the solution.


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