The wonder and curiosity of children is what shapes them as they grow. Their curious nature is a wonderful attribute, but navigating questions that arise due to serious illnesses can present a challenge. It is important to consider the temperament and developmental level of your child and approach answers based on their level of understanding. Answering medical questions delicately requires patience and starting small. It is important not to overwhelm your child with information overload, while increasingly giving them insight into their condition over time.
One particular way to approach answering challenging questions is to point to the uniqueness of each individual in your family. This might include discussing the strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes and physical characteristics of family members in a simple and familiar manner. This will allow you to segway into your child’s own unique characteristics related to their diagnosis in a way that will not make them feel isolated or out of the ordinary.
All of these conversations should, without a doubt, be filled with compassion, understanding and encouragement. It is vital to normalize their differences with sincerity and seek to understand your child’s motive by asking questions: to gain understanding, information, comfort or all three. Recognize that life can be unpredictable and confusing, but always end on a comforting note. Your child’s medical team is always there to help you navigate questions. Utilize their doctor as a resource and keep a list of questions to ask at appointments.