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Helping Your Child Understand Your Chronic Illness

If you suffer from a chronic illness, even explaining it to adults can be difficult. People have a lot of preconceived notions about chronic disease and what it means, and you often have to break through those assumptions to help them better understand what's going on with you. But as challenging as this is, explaining chronic illness to your child can be even harder. Here are some tips to help you better communicate with and educate your child about the chronic disease you struggle with.

Teach them slowly and age-appropriately

You might figure that when your child reaches a certain age, you'll just tell them everything you know about chronic illness and they'll understand. But approaching the subject like this can come as a shock, and your child may have unanswered questions in the years before you share your disease with them. A better approach, then, is to teach your child about your chronic disease a little at a time. Offer age-appropriate information, and build on that information over time as your child grows older.

You could start, for example, but just explaining that "mommy's legs don't work like everyone else's." Later, that could become "mom has to take medicine every day because her legs are different from everyone else's." A year later, you might find you can explain the name of your condition and how many other people have it — and build from there.

Look for support groups

If your disease is one that greatly affects your lifestyle and therefore your child's lifestyle, your child may reach a stage where they feel "different" from other kids. It can help, at this stage, to find a support group for other kids whose parents struggle with the same or similar chronic disease. Your child can then relate to and talk to other kids who can understand their struggles and answer their questions.

Read books

Sometimes, you may struggle with putting information about your disease into words a child can understand. Authors do this professionally, and they often write books specifically for kids whose parents have certain struggles. Look for age-appropriate books on your disease and on other kids whose parents share your disease. Work one into your reading routine now and then, and your child's understanding will grow in time.

With the tips above, you can better help your child understand your chronic disease, how it affects you, and also how it affects them.

For more information, contact a company such as Tiny Docs.

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