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Talking to children about their own epilepsy

Mother and son talking.

Any young child can be anxious about something they don’t understand. They may have fears, they may try to fill the gaps themselves, and what they believe may be distressing for them. A child with epilepsy can misunderstand their condition, for example feeling that they are in some way responsible for their seizures. It is very important to give a child a simple, friendly explanation about epilepsy and seizures, as it will help their fears disappear. The child will have a better understanding of their epilepsy and treatment.

When is the best time to tell your child?

At the time of a diagnosis of epilepsy your child may need reassurance. Firstly, they have had a seizure but may not know that has happened. They went to see a doctor, and they had to take tests in a hospital which can be worrying for them. In addition, they may have to take medicine every day. Even a very young child might wonder if something is wrong. If parents seem anxious the child may feel that it is serious. Answering any questions your child may have in simple terms it is important for lowering their fears. It is advised to tell the child as early as possible so that it is not a shock to them later.

How should you tell your child?

How you tell will depend on the age of your child and their level of understanding. Younger children need very simple explanations as too much detail can confuse them. Using puppets or toys can help support the explanation in a fun way. Often the child may ask questions about hospitals or medication. Playing games involving caring for a teddy or doll will help. A child who needs more detail may ask more questions later on. Find a quiet time to read a children’s book about epilepsy which has pictures and explanations your child can understand. Books give you useful words and images to use when talking about epilepsy.

You can read more about explaining epilepsy to a child by visiting the 'Children' Section of our website.