Explaining MS to children

It's normal to be worried about telling your child you have MS, but our tips and resources can help prepare you.

As a parent, you'll always be the best judge of how and when tell your child about your MS. You know them best, and you know how much information they'll be able to deal with.

Every child will react differently to the news. Some will worry they have caused the MS, or that it's contagious and they might catch it. They'll naturally have questions and concerns about your MS, and it's important to encourage them to share these with you.

Remember that children can be much more resilient and accepting of life’s changes than many adults.

My husband and I decided to wait a day or two, until I was back home and settled. Then we sat the girls down and told them the news. We kept it simple, just telling them the basics about what MS is. We didn’t want to frighten them with lots of information.

Tips on talking to children about your MS

Child psychologist Lisa Happ offers these tips on how to explain MS to a child:

  • try to choose a time of day when your child isn’t too tired or distracted
  • pick the right setting. It's important to have a face to face conversation so you can look your child in the eye and gauge their reaction - a car talk is not ideal.
  • don’t feel you have to tell them everything about MS all at once. Stick to the basics and then answer any questions they might have
  • don't worry if you don't know the answer! It’s OK to say, 'I don’t know, but I’ll try to find out,' to any question
  • use medical terms, and explain them. Talk about how doctors are helping you and your hope for a normal life
  • talk to your child about any changes you might have to make to their routine
  • make sure your child knows they can always ask you questions about your MS.