3 Tips to Talk to Children About Their Heart Condition

Mom with her tween daughter relaxing in bed, positive feelings, good relations.Being diagnosed with a congenital heart defect or other heart condition can be a difficult and scary experience for a child and their family, which can make it hard to talk about.

By educating yourself and working with your doctor and pediatric cardiology team, you’ll be able to answer all your child’s questions and calm any fears they may have.

1. Use Language They Understand

Depending on their age, you should use language that’s appropriate to their level of understanding. A very small child may respond only to basic concepts, but a teenager may be able to understand many of the technical terms in the diagnosis made by the pediatric cardiologist.

Although you may want to simplify the language you use for younger kids, don’t oversimplify it in a way that could cause them to feel uncertain about their diagnosis or left out of the conversation.

You should use clear language suited to your child’s personality and development to give them the information they need to understand what is happening in their body.

2. Keep Them in the Loop

Keeping your child up-to-date with information about their heart condition and treatment becomes more important as they get older. While it can make sense not to tell a very young child the specifics of their condition, as they become older it becomes increasingly important they understand the full scope of their heart condition, what medications they take and have taken and the types of procedures they’ve had in the past.

3. Show Them You’re Available

Regardless of what age your child is, it’s very important for them to understand that you’re fully available to them for help and emotional support. Make sure to let them know by being fully present when talking with your child, and listening to their concerns so you can address them.