Parent Skill #3 — Help Your Child Cope

Help your child cope with these changes

Grief is very real.

This time will be difficult for the whole family. Your child must come to understand the diagnosis and must reach some level of acceptance, just as you must do. Children react very differently to a chronic illness than adults do. Some kids act very strong, and may even say that the diagnosis is no big deal. Others are very emotional, showing anger, sadness or other changes in mood and behavior. There is no way to predict how your child might respond. Remember that all kids will need support, understanding and help while learning to cope with a chronic illness.

Children do not yet have the necessary skills to deal with an issue of this magnitude. Frankly, most adults don't either. You must encourage your child to express emotions openly and not hold back. You must feel comfortable doing the same. Listen to your child and allow open and honest expression of feelings and emotions. This might be one of the most potent therapies you can give your child. You know your child better than anyone else. You are the best person to provide the needed emotional support. This might be particularly hard for you, because you also are struggling to cope with this diagnosis.

Remember that it is okay for you to cry with your child and to express your frustration with the situation. Balance these conversations with others that are filled with laughter and positive feelings. Your child simply needs to know that you will work through these difficulties together, as a team. Your child's feeling about this illness will change over time. Your feelings will change as well. That is why it is essential to keep the lines of communication open at all times.

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