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Helping Your Child Deal with a Health Crisis

By Statepoint



It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: learning that a child suffers from a serious ailment. But for many families, it’s not the end but the beginning of a brave, new chapter. By maintaining a healthy outlook and calmly educating children about their illness, families can come together to help kids deal with and potentially overcome their maladies. This is especially important when kids need to change their behavior, such as when suffering from diabetes, asthma or cancer — whereby a child may need to eat or play differently from others. {{more}}”Once a child understands what they’re feeling and experiencing, and begins the process of tests and treatment, they begin to feel a little more at ease and more in control,” says Dr. M. Maitland DeLand, an oncologist of 30 years, whose new book, “The Great Katie Kate Tackles Questions About Cancer,” is part of a series of children’s books that helps kids tackle such issues as cancer, asthma and diabetes. Educate Each Other Children have a natural curiosity and require honest discussion to understand important facts. When it comes to health and illness, there has been a lack of educational information targeting children and speaking in their parlance. It’s here that literature like the Katie Kate series can be useful. “There is a clear need for illustrated books to explain to young kids how they can live normal, healthy lives while tackling health issues,” says Dr. DeLand, who speaks from experience after her son was diagnosed with diabetes at age four. “Often, parents don’t know how to explain the disease simply or provide explanations that cause a child to worry.” For information about communicating with kids about illness and “The Great Katie Kate” book series, visit Stay Positive A child’s curiosity can be an asset. Answering questions is important, but doing it with a positive outlook is more important. Stay strong and you may be surprised how children can handle adversity. “Children have a natural curiosity and resilience. All they need is encouragement and helpful information,” says Dr. DeLand. “This is why I created a character in my books called the Worry Wombat, who shrinks in size every time a child asks questions and utilizes the power of information to remove fear.” Be Honest Kids need details explained using words that suit their level. It’s important to communicate information to them that can help with treatment and even demystify their illness, making it less scary. It’s especially important to communicate issues they need to change in daily routines. Young kids with cancer may need to play at home and not be in crowds when their white blood cell count is low. Children who are diabetic need to learn what they cannot eat and to monitor blood sugar levels. Those with asthma need to learn how to play safely, so they don’t exacerbate their ailment. It’s not enough for you to communicate with doctors — medical advice needs to be communicated to the child. Come Together Harrowing as illness is, it’s also an opportunity for a family to unite. With many studies touting the health benefits of love and nurturing, coming together as a family could prove as important to combating illness as education and treatments. “Families need to be hopeful, informed and supportive,” notes Dr. DeLand.

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