You are here: Home Day to Day Living Children: Why To ... Guidelines For Telling ...
Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

Children: Why To Tell About Your Condition And How To Tell

Guidelines For Telling Children Who Are Toddlers Through Age 3

Next » « Previous


  • Use words the child can understand.
  • The use of dolls or stuffed animals can help a young child understand your illness.
  • A young child's capacity to understand far exceeds his or her capacity to verbalize. Yet, at the same time, young hcildren may not fully comprehend what is being said. You may need to repeat yourself several times.
  • A young child's interpretations are literal. Choose words with care and use short sentences. For example, describing anesthesia as being "put to sleep" could confuse a child and lead to sleep problems. Alternative language might be "The doctor will give Dad a special medicine so that his body will not hurt while the doctor does the operation. The operation is to take out the part of Dad's stomach that is not working right. The rest of his stomach is okay. His body will be a little sore after the operation."
  • If you are about to undergo a treatment that is extensive and may have side effects, indicate the reason for the treatment. If a specific body part is affected, be explicit and show where on your body. If you will have appliances, bandages, I.V's or whatever, attach replicas to your body to help the toddler visualize what is to be expected.
  • Be sure the child understands there is a continuity of the parent-child relationship and that familiar routines and rituals will continue.
  • Be alert for signs of separation anxiety. The closer the relationship to the parent, the more intense the distress on separation.
  • If you anticipate hospitalization, play hide-and-seek. With repeated experiences, the child learns that objects out of sight continue to exist.

NOTE: Before telling your children, see: General Guidelines For How Much To Tell Children About Your Diagnosis

*These guidelines for telling children of different age groups are based on the classic text, EMOTIONAL CARE OF HOSPITALIZED CHILDREN, An Environmental Approach, 2d Edition by Madeline Petrillo, R.N., M.Ed, Singay Sanger, M.D., J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 1980, with revisions suggested by Ann Hazzard, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Emory University School of Medicine.

Please share how this information is useful to you. 0 Comments


Post a Comment Have something to add to this topic? Contact Us.

Characters remaining:

  • Allowed markup: <a> <i> <b> <em> <u> <s> <strong> <code> <pre> <p>
    All other tags will be stripped.