Caring for a chronically ill child

Your Child and Teen
Caring for a chronically ill child

Caring for a child with a chronic health condition is difficult for everyone. Some examples of a chronic health condition may include cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, asthma and cystic fibrosis.  Read on to learn more about ways you can offer the best support for your child and at the same time, care for yourself.  

  • Educate: Learn about your child’s condition. Make lists of questions to ask at doctor’s appointments. Find sources related to his or her diagnosis online or through support groups, and use this information to guide your questions about treatment and care. Explain this information to your child in terms he or she will understand.
  • Support your child: Support his or her choices in friends and activities. A sense of belonging is a necessary component of any child’s life, and clubs or activities can be a great way to achieve this. Make an effort to help your child establish and maintain relationships with peers, and encourage him or her to join clubs, camps or other activities.  
  • Communicate: Be open with your child about his or her condition. Explain the course of treatment, limitations and what to expect at doctor and hospital visits. Anticipated stress is easier to cope with than unexpected stress, so be open with your child about the future. Encourage your child to express his or her emotions surrounding the situation. Make family, teachers and peers aware of what’s going on with your child. This will make them more understanding and willing to provide help and support.
  • Self-care:  Care for yourself so you can care for your child. The quality of care you can provide for your child will drop if you are exhausted or depleted. Take time to nurture yourself and your relationships with your spouse, family, friends or anyone else in your life. Healthy, positive relationships can be a great source of comfort during difficult times.
  • Reach out: Use your social network for support. Involve your immediate and extended family, religious community, neighborhood and school. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Most people will be more than happy to do whatever they can. Use resources like support groups or therapy to help you and your child cope with feelings and emotions.  
  • Hope:  Allow yourself to feel and process your negative emotions, but try to avoid dwelling on them. Hope is important.