Telling your child about your stoma

Hear from Sarah our Clinical Advisor

From A Bigger Life

Telling a child about your stoma

As an adult when you’re told you need to have a stoma, whether you’re a mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, aunt or uncle, it won’t just be you that will be affected by having a stoma. If you have children of any age within your family, they will naturally be concerned that you’re going into hospital and be even more curious about what you’re coming out with.

Whenever you’re thinking about what to say to children in your family it very much depends on what age they are and how much information you have shared with them before you have gone into hospital. If you have been ill for a long time and they witnessed you unwell and needing surgery you should use positive terms when you’re talking about your stoma and that you have a bag now on your tummy and it’s just an alternative way to go to the toilet. The main thing to tell them is that it’s made you better and it’s going to enable you to do lots more things and get back to normal when you recover from your surgery.

Hints and tips

  • There are dolls and teddies that have stomas on them that can be used with young children to explain where the stoma is and how the bag works.
  • Colouring in books are a good distraction when your explaining to children what the bag is and how it works.
  • Help them to understand in words that are easy for the age of the child that your trying to explain it to.
  • Most importantly it is good to be honest, children are very adaptable and very understanding, they just get back to normal and accept you for who you are with your new stoma.
  • Other people have found it useful to encourage the child to name the stoma. This means if you are out and about and you need to change your bag it could be your little secret code word that nobody else needs to know about.
  • You could change the bag in front of the child which helps to completely demystify it, it is very much a personal choice if you think your child would be able to deal with psychically seeing the stoma and bag change.

It really is an individual thing, but our hints and tips will help you see what has worked for other people and you can choose what’s best for your family.

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