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Useful tips

Tips to help your child cope

1. Talk to your child about the stroke, try to answer all their questions and encourage them to speak to the doctor. Use simple and easy language.

2. Reassure them that it is okay to be scared or upset.

3. Try to keep your child in touch with their friends. Most hospitals have areas where mobile phones can be used and some have cyber cafes so they can email as well.

4. Be involved in your child’s recovery and help them practise their exercises regularly.

5. Monitor your child’s development and work with their teachers, carers and therapists to get the best results possible.

Tips to help you cope

1. Learn about your child’s condition and do not feel scared to ask. Write down any questions you want to ask the nurses and doctors. The more you ask the more you will understand how best to support your child.

2. Ask if you can help with your child’s care in hospital. You could help to wash them, play with them and feed them.

3. Have a break! Taking time out is essential so you can revitalise yourself and come back feeling refreshed.

4. Family and friends will rally around at times like this. Their support and care is invaluable but it can be draining keeping everyone updated. Nominate someone to pass on the news or set up an email list.

5. Talk to people about how you are feeling. Speak to your family, friends, helplines and support groups so you can meet other people in a similar situation.

Tips to help your other children cope

1. Use simple child friendly language when talking about stroke. Use pictures and websites (like www.kidshealth.org or www.childrenfirst.nhs.uk) to help you.

2. Try to answer your children’s questions honestly and prepare yourself for answers that can be upsetting or difficult. Do not avoid subjects. Your children will be more likely to worry and make up their own explanation for what is happening.

3. If you are visiting the doctor, ask your children to write down any questions that they have. Include them in the situation.

4. Spend a portion of time with each of your children. Having a dedicated time for each child may help to avoid jealousy or rivalry.

5. Include them in helping with any rehabilitation exercises and games, but ensure this does not become a big responsibility for them. You should also discourage them from talking on behalf of their brother or sister if they have a speech problem.

6. If you think they feel embarrassed by their sibling, talk to them about it. Try to see it from their perceptive and reassure them that they are not in trouble. Give them an explanation card explaining what a stroke is, so if people stare they can hand it to them.

7. Contact SIBS and Carers UK for more information on support services for younger carers.