Talking to children about illness

Kathryn Elison, MSW Clinical Social Worker, shares advice for parents with a hospitalized child on the best way to discuss the child's illness with him or her
Hospitalized Child Advice | Talking To Kids About Their Illness
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Talking to children about illness

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One of the scariest parts of your child's hospitalization is entering the conversation with them about their illness. Often times, it's parents that are more scared than the child. Children are going to ask you questions, and they want answers. In this conversation, you want to provide, clear, concrete, developmentally appropriate information about your child's illness. Again, your child's imagination is likely way worse than the reality. Having an open, honest conversation with your child about their illness, will help comfort them, actively involved them in their care, and help support them throughout this stressful time. Having a very serious conversation about your child's illness, if it's progressive, is also very difficult. Please look to your medical team to get advice, support, and how to have this kind of conversation. Your hospital will likely have clinical psychologists and child life specialists who are trained to help find the words for you to say, when you are having a conversation about your child's serious illness. Remember, being involved and knowing what's going on, takes away your child's fears in that situation. Also, having and open and honest conversation about what is going on, will likely help you as the parent, too.

Kathryn Elison, MSW Clinical Social Worker, shares advice for parents with a hospitalized child on the best way to discuss the child's illness with him or her

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Kathryn Elison, MSW

Clinical Social Worker, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Kathryn Elison is a Clinical Social Worker at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She was drawn to her profession because of her passion to provide support to families experiencing a medical crisis. Kathryn accompanies her patients and their families during one of the most stressful journeys of their lives, helping them navigate through this challenge and supporting them each step of the way. A native of North Carolina, Kathryn moved to Los Angeles, CA after receiving a Master of Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her free time, Kathryn enjoys exploring her new home state of California with her husband Jed and her dog Sallie.

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