Inflammatory Bowel Disease can be hard for an adult to understand. For a child the diagnosis can be confusing or even scary. The symptoms can be very difficult to talk about or embarrassing so it can further complicate the matter.
It is very important to explain to a child with IBD what the disease is in an age-appropriate way. They may also need explanations of medical testing, medications and any dietary changes. While there is no known cause for IBD it is important to make sure that your child knows that it is not their fault nor was it caused by something they did.
School age children will need tools to discuss their IBD should symptoms occur at school. It can be helpful to develop a "code" with the child's teacher so that they can visit the nurse or the bathroom without a huge disruption of the group. Having to explain symptoms every time can draw unwanted attention to the child.
With younger children doctor's appointments are often lead by the parent. As the child gets older it is important to allow them to communicate their symptoms to the physician. Parents can always add additional information when needed but this role play is key in getting your child comfortable talking openly with doctors.
Children with IBD may have fears or sadness associated with dealing with a chronic health condition like IBD. It can be helpful to plug your child in with other children that have IBD if possible. Having an open line of communication with your child is also essential. Allow them to come to you any time with fears, concerns or symptoms. Be careful not to label symptoms as "gross" or "too much information" because this may make your child less likely to tell you next time.
Open communication with parents, doctors and your child's teachers can make negotiating IBD much easier. Children are so resilient and can adapt to most any situation with a little help from you.