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Your 8-year-old now
Your child has a good sense of what's going on in the household and can read its emotional temperature. When a loved one is seriously ill, it's usually best not to hide it from your child. Choose the words to explain it on a level he can understand: "Grandpa's heart is sick."
Assure your child that the sick person has lots of good doctors trying to make him better and that you or other relatives are also looking after him. But if the prognosis is uncertain, leave the fate open-ended: "He might not get better, but we hope with all this help that he will. His medicine is making him feel better."
You'll probably need to have more than one conversation about a chronic illness or ongoing medical situation. Answer questions as they come up, with just enough information to satisfy. Skip longwinded explanations about the physiology involved or the treatments being tried.
Kids often find creative expression a good outlet for anxiety. So make sure your child has the opportunity to draw or paint, or to build with blocks or use whatever creative medium he's drawn to. A doctor's kit is another kind of pretend play that helps your child work out concerns – while giving you insights into what he's thinking and feeling.
Your life now
It can be amazing to watch your child attempt things that you've never tried (skateboarding, playing violin) and learn new skills you've never had. It's another sign that he's an individual, separate from you.
Sometimes this new gap between you and your child can make a parent feel insecure or self-conscious. Applaud his efforts – and don't be too hard on yourself for not being an expert snowboarder yourself. You have other talents.
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