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How to Cope when a Child Has a Chronic or Complex Health Condition

Looking after a child with a chronic or complex health condition takes time and energy. This resource centre contains tips and tools to help you manage stress, look after yourself and your family, and help your child cope with being in hospital. You’ll also find advice to help you communicate with your child’s health care team and with schools and other caregivers.

Coping with illness as a family

Having a sick child is hard for the whole family. Parents feel stressed out and pressed for time; siblings may feel anxious, guilty, or left out. Coping with illness as a family means taking care of yourself, eating right, and building a good support network. That way, you’ll be better able to take care of your child and the rest of your family.

Helping your child cope with illness

Illness and hospital stays are hard for children of any age. Children may be bored, confused, afraid, or in pain. Luckily, there are many things parents can do to make things a little better. This section has information and tools to help you help your child cope with illness and treatment.

Advocating for your child

Clear communication about your child’s needs is essential to making sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your child’s care. Every child’s situation is different, but you can use the information in this section to help you talk to your child’s doctors, nurses, and teachers.

To better advocate for your child, it helps to be well informed about your child’s illness. Learn more in our Health A-Z and Resource Centres, learn about the body in How the Body Works, and use our step by step guides to home health care for children to show other caregivers how to care for your child.

Financial and community support

A serious illness in the family often comes with many unexpected costs, from medical supplies to transportation and hotel stays. Your family may be eligible for government support, tax breaks, community health services, or charitable help. A social worker can help you find resources to help your child. 

Chronic and complex care videos

Living with Leukemia Childhood Leukemia: A Survivor's Story Introducing Chronic Complex Care Taming Your Hospital Stay