Telling your children you have MS

Telling your children that you have MS can be a challenge. You may be concerned about the impact of the news, have trouble putting what you need to say into words, or wonder how much of the information your children will understand. But there are ways to tell even very young children about MS, and you may be surprised at how well they handle it.

Children can be quite perceptive, and may already have sensed that something is wrong. They are also resilient, and can often deal with tough news. It may actually be a relief for them to find out about your MS because it will provide an explanation for the changes they may have noticed. Knowing the power of a child's imagination, the news that you have MS may not be as bad as whatever they imagined was going on.

Every family is unique, and there is no "best way" to tell your children you have MS. However, there are a few things that can make it easier:

  • Plan ahead. Before talking to your child, write down what you'd like to say. You may even want to practice on a spouse or friend to sort out how you'd like to say it.
  • Set aside a time when you will not be disturbed and sit down with your child in a comfortable place.
  • Explain your condition in a way that is age-appropriate. Teach your child the name of the condition and how to say it, how the condition affects your health, how it might change the family routines (e.g., family friends may help drive them to school), and what the prognosis is.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions about MS. This will help prevent them from worrying unnecessarily. Keep the lines of communication open – make sure your child knows they're welcome to talk to you or ask questions whenever they need to. You can also encourage them to talk to a friend or to a trusted adult.

Check with the MS Society of Canada, the National MS society, your physician, or your MS nurse for more MS resources for children.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: