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When Life Hits Hard: Talking to Your Kids About Your Illness

Guest Contributor:

Angela Body, LCSW, NSW-C

When diagnosed with a chronic, or terminal illness, most individuals are so afraid and confused that they are barely able to hold their head above water. Clients have shared that receiving a diagnosis of chronic illness is like being knocked off your feet, “literally.”

Many individuals withdraw from their spouse, kids, extended family members, friends and co-workers. Others maintain their lifestyle, experience some form of denial (which is a defense mechanism) and go through their day-to-day tasks without speaking about their condition.

Your child may notice changes in your behavior and/or physical health. Your child may become anxious, present with behavioral changes, sleeping issues, or nightmares.

Family members may step in to assist, but nothing compares to the bond between a child and their parents.

Please understand that this may not be the experience for most, however, historically, individuals can take several months to adjust.

Here are some helpful tips!

  • Be truthful. Speak with your child(ren) as soon as you are able.

  • Ask your child about any fears or concerns she/he may be experiencing.

  • Try not to make any drastic changes to their daily routine.

  • Set up an appointment to speak with your child’s teacher. Your child’s teacher can notify you of any emotional or behavioral changes they may be experiencing.