• Talk openly and honestly to children about epilepsy.
  • Encourage children to ask questions.
  • Have resources available.
  • Key message: People with epilepsy deserve respect and understanding, not teasing and cruelty. 

 

Children need answers. If epilepsy or another health problem affects your child, someone else in the family, or a friend, should give the facts and let your child ask questions. If you keep the lines of communication open, your relationship will be strengthened.

Above all, tell the truth. If your children sense that you are lying to them or not telling them everything, they may not believe other things you tell them in the future.

father and son talking

Use language and explanations that are appropriate for their ages. Don't use complex medical terms that are hard for children to understand. You know your children best. Just speak to them in the same terms you would use to talk about other things.

Encourage your children to ask questions, and have resources available to help them understand your answers. Children are curious by nature, so they will ask questions, but they will do it in their own time and in their own way. If your child asks something that you cannot answer, say that you will find the information as soon as you can. Then follow through. You may find the answer on this site, or you may need to talk to the doctor or nurse.

What your child needs to know other things depends on the situation. Does the child have epilepsy, or someone else? What kinds of seizures are occurring? How severe and how frequent are they? Make sure that your child understands that not all seizures are like the ones on television, in which the person falls down and thrashes around (though in some cases that does happen). If your child has epilepsy, chances are good, though not certain, that the seizures can be mostly or completely stopped by medication and the epilepsy will be just a small part of his or her life.

The most important message for any child is that people with epilepsy are just like everyone else. They deserve respect and understanding, not teasing and cruelty.

 

Authored by: Steven C. Schachter, MD | Joseph I. Sirven, MD
Reviewed by: Joseph I. Sirven, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN on 8/2013
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