When it comes to children and health concerns, it can be difficult to find an appropriate way to approach the discussion – even though it’s a necessary discussion to have. Whether you or your child suffer from a chronic, physically debilitating condition, have an illness that requires surgery – such as cancer – or there are mental health concerns ranging from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia, it’s important to be as open and honest as possible, while also recognizing that your child will require any discussion to occur in a child-friendly way.
It may seem that the best option, if you find broaching such subjects yourself difficult, is to rely on healthcare providers or teachers to engage in a discussion about sickness with your child. They are both professionals in some way and will have experience of discussing difficult subjects with children in general. However, removing yourself from the scenario can cause confusion for your child and prevent them from feeling as though they can come to you with any concerns they may have.
A good way round this is to have a search for books that might be useful to discuss with your child. These days, there are tons of options out there that will aid and facilitate an open dialog regarding anything health-related and help to build understanding within your child, while also creating a deeper bond between the two of you.
Changes in Routine
Health concerns can upend routines and create further worries and anxieties for your child that they may not understand, particularly if they have routines that they rely on. Books can help your child to understand the various stages of preparation or the changes that are required and why, using child-friendly language that aids their knowledge and understanding while also providing comfort.
For example, if you or your child suffers with dysphagia – either on its own or as a result of an illness or accident – there will be much more preparation time required when cooking and making meals. This either means mealtimes are delayed or they need starting earlier on, and your child will require some support in gaining an understanding of this. Products such as Simply Thick can also be useful, in that it can help to thicken food for dysphagia sufferers quickly, meaning that not as much preparation time will be required.
Deepening a Bond
Sometimes, when you, your child, or a loved one are suffering with an illness, require surgery, or have mental health concerns, it can cause emotional distance between you and your child. Reading with them is a good way of having some one-on-one time together, helping the two of you to bond while informing them about the health problems occurring. It also allows the two of you time to discuss any related questions or anxieties in a safe, calm environment, which can also result in a positive effect on your relationship.
Sharing with Others
Books that help to demystify health concerns for children are also useful in that they arm them with the appropriate level of knowledge and vocabulary that they will need to raise the subject outside of your home. This means that, when they are feeling worried or concerned and you are not there – when they’re at school, for example – they are able to talk about their worries relating to certain health concerns in a way that can be understood by other adults. Additionally, it can help them to find their own ways of opening up to their friends, too, as they are able to talk things through in a child-friendly way that will (hopefully) not scare or worry other children.
Never underestimate the power of books and stories in dealing with everyday problems in life – they can help you in a number of ways and allow you to build much more secure bonds in your relationship.