Parents: Diseases do not hide from children

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Parents should not hide their own illnesses from the children

(25.08.2010) The Federal Association of Pediatricians (BVKJ) then knows that it is better for children to deal with illnesses in the family openly. "Children quickly notice that something is wrong. Knowing what is the cause helps them more than an anticipating uncertainty," said BVKJ board member Hans-Jürgen Nentwich. Therefore serious illnesses of the parents should be communicated openly.

The child does not have to know the condition of the parents in detail, but rather needs to be informed about the illness of a parent in as simple a manner as possible. According to Nentwich, For example, to tell preschool children that one parent is ill and needs to see a doctor. Possible physical consequences (e.g. chemotherapy) should be mentioned in this context. The pupils should always be made aware that they did not cause the disease and that they do not automatically fall ill. In addition, it is important for toddlers to make it clear once again in the case of parental diseases with foreseeable deaths that dying is not contagious.

For schoolchildren, parents should describe in more detail what they are suffering from and what the consequences may be. According to the expert, the point is not to present worried-case scenarios, but rather to make it clear to the children that the sick parent cannot be the way they normally are. From the age of twelve, parental illnesses and the possible consequences as well as uncertainties in treatment can be informed in detail, Nentwich continues.

According to the expert from the BVKJ, "Children and adolescents (…) can react differently to the news of a parent's illness, from bedwetting to aggressiveness to complete isolation." Guardians should therefore not hesitate and ask their pediatrician for help, advises Nentwich. (fp)

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