March 3, 2016

Model the reaction you hope your child will have

You may want to scream and cry when you discover challenges with your children’s health, but resist the urge to do so. “Not only is the content you impart [about your children’s health] important, but the way you convey that information is critical to how your child will respond,” explains Dr. Shrand. “If you sound scared, you make them get scared. If you sound too cavalier they may think you don’t care.” And, Dr. Gilboa agrees, “Your kid will not react exactly as you do, but he will be watching to see how serious you think this is. If you can moderate your own reactions some, he will be reassured.”

While learning how to tell my son about his medical condition wasn’t easy, he was clearly ready to understand the developmental delays that were challenging his daily life. But, I did need guidance. “A family doctor or pediatrician that knows you and your child really well can help,” offers Dr. Gilboa. “Teaching your child to reach out to his doctor with questions or concerns is a great life skill to have. Medical illnesses [like childhood cancer], disabilities or delays are difficult discussions, but focusing on the positive resources that your child has can help. And knowing that there are other people in the situation helps a child feel more secure.” Children’s health issues are an emotional rollercoaster for kids, but so long as you are your youngster’s rock, you can make it easier for your child to understand.

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Deborah Gilboa, MD

Doctor G (Deborah Gilboa, MD) of AskDoctorG.com empowers parents to raise respectful, responsible and resilient kids. Around the country and around the world, she works with parents to increase their knowledge and to use the parenting instincts they already have. Doctor G focuses on practical tools and teaching skills, not just dishing out advice.

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