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How do I talk to my child about their limb difference?

Approaching the topic of a child’s limb difference may be daunting, especially if you don't know where or how to start. We understand that each child is different and so there are no set rules on how to go about this, but don’t worry, we have some advice which we hope can facilitate and guide your conversations and make it easier for you to know where to begin.



Dad and son sat talking

How to talk to your child about their limb difference


Children often take in the tone and language that is used around them and will mimic that in their own speech. When approaching the topic of your child’s limb difference, it can help to use simple terminology that is easy to understand and is easy to explain to others. Using simple terminology can give children the opportunity take in and understand what they have been told and can allow your own child to be better understood by their peers when they are talking about their limb difference to others.


It may sometimes feel difficult to talk about limb differences, some parents want to highlight similarities rather than differences and others don't wish to put a child in the spotlight or make them uncomfortable. Speaking with your child at home about their limb difference can help prepare for when others may ask questions and allows them to have a better understanding of their own body.


If you're not sure where to start the conversation, you could begin by looking at these topics:


- Why they have a limb difference

- Answer any questions or concerns they have to increase their understanding, such suggesting ways to approach questions that other children may ask

- How it makes them special and unique, using empowering language

- Refer to others that have a similar limb difference, you can refer to inspiring story books or toys that include a prosthetic to build their confidence


A mother and son close together

How to talk to others about your child’s limb difference


It is always beneficial to think about how you will approach questions about your child’s limb difference. This can include explaining why or how they have a limb difference and what information could be useful to them. Educating others and suggesting different terminologies to use is always a great way to approach the subject. This normalises the conversation and reduces any misinformation or stigma. Some people may ask invasive questions or stare, but it is important to note that most people are curious rather than being disrespectful.


Top tip: When answering questions from others, be aware that your child may be listening to how you speak about it and may repeat it. It would be beneficial to talk in a positive manner and have your child develop their own way of explaining it.


You also have the choice of when or if you want to share this information with others, this could be prior to the baby’s birth, after their birth or whenever you feel comfortable doing so. It is also important to note that the earlier others know about it, the faster they can get used to approaching the subject. It is up to you, as some may not want to mention or focus on it and would rather focus on what children have in common rather than what makes them different.



How your child can talk to others about their limb difference


The way you may talk to others about your child may vary to they your child will talk others. Some advice would be that your child could use the explanation you have given them to explain to others, in a simple manner to educate others.


Top tip: After your child explains their limb difference, they can then go on to focus on what makes them similar to them rather than what makes them different, such as hobbies they both like to do.


Top tip: If the child’s limb difference is related to an accident, it is useful to link to what they are able to do, rather than what they struggle with, to reduce the fear aspect in children.


Top tip: If they feel uncomfortable talking about their personal story, they can use a humorous story instead.


A group of children sitting and smiling together

Overall, there is a lot to consider when talking to your child and others about their limb difference. We would love to know if this was useful and if there is anything you think we should include! Also, we would love to hear your advice and stories about how you approached this topic with your child!



References:

https://limbs4kids.org.au/family-support/talking-about-your-childs-limb-difference

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