Chronic illness can be difficult to explain to your child. The rarity and persistence of the condition as well as the limitations that it imposes on them, can be hard to understand and come to terms with at any age but particularly as a kid.
Young children often won’t quite be able to grasp why they have to go to so many doctor’s visits when they’d rather be playing, or, as they get older, why their friends don’t have to.
It can be extremely frustrating to be restricted to what they can or can not do because of their illness. Feeling a lack of control over that aspect of their bodies can be aggravating.
The Immune Deficiency Foundation has some advice on how to help. They suggest letting your child be independent in making choices for the things that they can have control over, even though it may be small. For example, your child cannot choose whether or not to get a necessary injection or a blood draw, but they can choose what color bandage they get afterwards.
The IDF also recommends responding to your child’s increasing desire for independence and autonomy by communicating with them thoroughly and encouraging direct dialogue between them and their doctor.
Giving them small responsibilities in self-care can help them feel more in charge of their illness.
Try getting in touch with the child life resources at your hospital. Child life specialists can help to normalize hospital experiences and put your child at ease. They will often use dolls or stuffed animals to allow the child to “practice” whatever procedure they will be undergoing themselves before it happens so they have a better understanding of it and less anxiety.
Featured image sourced from A Peek into your Eyes