Living with pain is never easy and it can be even more challenging when you have young children. The best way to talk to them is not to read out our article “The causes of joint pain” but rather to use some simple, proven strategies that explain the causes of your pain and what it means for you.
Preparing Yourself To Talk
Before you sit down with your kids, you need to think about what you’re going to say. You want to consider which words you will use so that they’ll understand you.
It will be important for you to stay calm but it’s OK to show your emotions while you talk. The causes of pain are complex and you might want to discuss what you’re going to say with your physician so they can guide you to simple explanations.
If you are facing particularly challenging circumstances, it’s OK to have a family member or friend support you as you tell your story too.
When Should You Talk To Your Kids About Your Pain
Your children aren’t stupid and they are likely to already know something is wrong. That means you need to talk to them as soon as you feel able to.
This may not be the same in every circumstance. It’s easier for many people to talk about the causes of joint pain, for example, than to talk about a cancer diagnosis which is causing both physical and mental anguish.
It is best, however, if possible to have the talk in a safe environment (at home) rather than somewhere intimidating (like a hospital).
What To Say
There are, of course, many different communication styles but when it comes to breaking difficult news – all the top professionals agree, be honest and keep things simple. For the youngest children explain you are sick and that it is causing you pain.
For older children, you may choose to offer more details. However, these are the things you really need to consider as part of your first talk:
- Be direct and don’t use euphemisms. Cancer is cancer and not “a lump”. Euphemisms confuse children and don’t protect them according to child psychiatric specialists.
- Don’t be afraid to use books and diagrams appropriately to help explain things.
- Dolls are good for pointing out where your pain is.
- Explain the implications of your pain, “this means mummy may be tired more often” or “daddy may sometimes be grumpy.”
- Be hopeful. Look to the future and also draw on examples (such as Lance Armstrong) where people have come through trauma and out the other side.
- Don’t let guilt come into it. Tell your children in no uncertain terms that this is no-one’s fault and that they played no part in your pain or illness.
- Reassure them that you love them and tell them throughout the conversation.
- If there will be any changes to their lives because of your pain or the causes of your pain – explain what they will be.
- If they can help, explain how this might work.
- Let them ask questions and don’t be afraid to say you don’t know and will need to find out the answers.
In short, telling your children that you are living in pain and about the causes of your pain which might be as simple as the causes of joint pain or as complicated as lupus, doesn’t need to be a chore. It will certainly help them understand what is going on, how they can help and reassure them that they are not to blame.