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Communicating with Your Child

Discussing Diagnosis and Changes

photoMany parents ask how to bring up the topic of a new diagnosis or change in medical condition with their children. Any change in health status or ability to do tasks that the child can observe is a good place to start. “You may have noticed that Dad has been more tired recently. That’s because....” “Remember when Mom had that headache and couldn’t drive you to soccer practice? She went to the doctor for some tests and found out that she has….”


If possible, you might want to wait until you have a definite diagnosis and treatment plan, so that the diagnosis can be presented to the children along with a plan for medical care. This is often reassuring and helps to set the stage for practical planning about maintaining routines. However, if the diagnosis is unclear for an extended period, and there is a significant change in the parent’s appearance, function, or schedule, children may need to be told that there are ongoing tests to find out what is wrong and that the doctors will then decide how to treat it.