Talking to your child about their medical condition

Talking to a child about their condition is something that goes on over many years with the aim of giving them a good understanding of it that is right for their age.

What to do and say

  • Firstly, find out what your child already knows about their condition. For instance you could say ‘What do you think about what the doctor said?’ This will allow you to plan what you are going to say to your child.                                                                                                                                                                              
  • If you have to speak to your child about their illness in a moment of crisis, repeat the things you have said later on when you are feeling calmer.
  • Give information in small chunks and repeat.

What to avoid doing or saying

  • Don’t make light of difficulties your child is facing, or lay it on too thickly. Try to find a middle ground with a positive outlook.
  • Avoid lies and half-truths. Children can imagine something worse if not told the truth.
  • Try not to be upset if your child doesn’t ask you questions directly. They may find it easier to talk to someone who is more removed from the situation, like a nurse, teacher or another relative.

Please click here for more information about speaking to your child about their medical condition.

For more information read Macmillan's advice page.