Skip to content

    Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

    Select An Article

    How to Talk to Your Kids About Multiple Sclerosis

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Once you learn you have multiple sclerosis (MS), it may take you some time to adjust to your symptoms and to know what to expect from your disease. The same goes for your children. They might be even less sure of what to expect than you are. They might also feel scared, sad, angry, or helpless about your diagnosis.

    The most important thing to do is to talk to your children about how MS affects you and see what they’re thinking. Open communication can help you ease their fears, answer their questions, and let them know how you feel.

    Recommended Related to Multiple Sclerosis

    Do Multiple Sclerosis and Alcohol Mix?

    You're at a restaurant with friends and the question comes up before you've even had a chance to look over the menu: drinks, anyone? If you have multiple sclerosis, you may want to think it through before you say, "yes." If you ask experts whether alcohol and MS mix, the answer is, "it's complicated." Like a lot of things in life, there are some pros and cons to the issue.

    Read the Do Multiple Sclerosis and Alcohol Mix? article > >

    Starting the Conversation

    Before you sit down with your child, think about her age, maturity level, and how much you think she can understand about your disease. If you have more than one child, it may be helpful to talk to them individually so you can make the discussion right for each of them.

    Don’t be surprised if your kids already know that something is up before you talk about it with them. Children of all ages are good at knowing when things are different. But you may want to ask them how they would like to learn more about MS. They can start by reading a book alone or with you, watching a video, or going with you to a doctor's visit.

    Children's Reactions to Multiple Sclerosis

    Sometimes normal emotions like fear, sadness, or guilt may lead to changes in a child’s behavior. Here are some signs to watch for in your child:

    • More focus on her own body and wellness
    • Not wanting to spend time with close friends
    • Higher anxiety and stress
    • Trying to act older or younger than she is
    • Behaving badly in public
    • Lying to friends about your illness
    • Temper tantrums
    • Waiting until you’re tired at the end of day to ask for things (such as help with homework)
    • Doing poorly in school
    • Nightmares, bed-wetting, and trouble falling asleep.

    You may want to get professional help for your child if she:

    • Is depressed
    • Has severe behavior problems or ones that don’t go away
    • Can’t sleep or has nightmares for over a month
    • Isn’t hungry or eats too much
    • Loses interest in schoolwork or hobbies
    • Has mood swings or changes in her personality
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    nerve damage
    Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
    woman applying lotion
    Ideas on how to boost your mood and self-esteem.
     
    woman pondering
    Get personalized treatment options.
    man with hand over eye
    Be on the lookout for these symptoms.
     
    brain scan
    ARTICLE
    worried woman
    ARTICLE
     
    neural fiber
    ARTICLE
    white blood cells
    VIDEO
     
    sunlight in hands
    ARTICLE
    marijuana plant
    ARTICLE
     
    muscle spasm
    ARTICLE
    Neuron
    ARTICLE