COPING WITH SEIZURES AND EPILEPSY: WHAT DO YOU TELL YOUR CHILD?
Be truthful and be simple. What you should tell your child depends on your child’s age, sophistication, and level of understanding. It is best to be truthful. Otherwise, sooner or later you may get trapped in a web of lies and cover-ups that will only make things worse. If your child does not ask questions, it may be because he’s too frightened or unable to articulate his fear. So don’t take his silence as meaning he has no concerns. Remember that your child probably has no memory of the event that was so frightening to you. His first memory is likely to be of awakening in the ambulance or in the hospital emergency room. He is likely to be frightened because he doesn’t know what happened—and is as fearful now of the unknown as you were.
To a young child, your explanation may be as simple as, “You had a seizure. You couldn’t talk to me for a few minutes, and Mommy and Daddy got very excited and called the doctor, but he says that you’re fine.”
For an older child, you might talk about what a seizure is, about electricity in the brain, and tell him that a seizure is like a short circuit or a little static on the radio. The pre-teenager or teenager needs a more in-depth explanation. Your doctor or a nurse should do this, but you should discuss it with your child as well. He has heard about seizures and may have many misunderstandings. Give your child a chance to ask questions. Get him some of the Epilepsy Foundation’s publications.
Explain that while there is no guarantee that a similar episode will not recur, most children never have another one. He is still your normal boy (or girl) and everything is fine now. Be truthful and reassuring. Let him know that you were scared, too, but that when you understood what had happened you were not afraid.
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