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Explaining asthma to Holly

Hi everyone, I hope you are all well

As some of you may know my little girl Holly who's coming up on 5, has had asthma for some time and has dealt wih it really well.

However last night she woke up in a bad way. We were eventually able to deal with it ourselves but it was touch and go whether as to whether we phoned an ambulance.

Anyway she asked the dreaded question when she had calmed down a bit, ""why have I got asthma""

She became quite upset and was crying saying ""mummy I didn't do anything I promise I was just sleeping and it started."" My heart was absolutely breaking. It sounded like she thought it was her fault. I gently explained that I knew it wasn't her fault and it was just she had a poorly chest. I work with people with disabilities and Holly seems to have accepted that while some people can't walk and some people can't talk, sometimes she can't breathe poperly. This is the way she's explained her asthma to her friends and other people.

I really need advice on this as I just don't know how to explain it to her better and in a way that she'd understand. I really did have no idea that she''d even consider it to be her own fault. Any advice would be really gratefully appreciated.

Thanks in advance



5 Replies

That must have been tough Anne! Especially when you'd had to battle to get the attack under control and then to have to answer such difficult questions. But that's what kids do - they ask tough questions and we just have to be as honest and clear with them as we can without frightening them, which is exactly what you did. And just keep reassuring her that it's not her fault. I wonder if that's an idea she's picked up at school?? Don't beat yourself up about this, just answerthe questions when they come as best you can and she'll be fine with it.



sounds like you are doing really well with the line you are taking. I don't have any experience of telling kids things like that myself, but if you would like I can ask on the doctor's forum I post on to see if anyone there has any recommendations or books to use?


Thanks Owl and Astra

I took her to the doctors today and she got some pred and while we were there she explained to him that she didn't do anything and he also explained to her that it wasn't her fault He asked her why she would think it was her fault and she explained that she often gets wheezy when she runs about or plays outside. He says it could be now that she's at school she's comparing herself to other children and could only suggest we keep reiterating that she's not to blame and suggested that we try to make contact with children who have similar symptoms to Holly. I know that many children have asthma but Holly doesn't know anyone who suffers from it quite as badly as her.

Someone pm'd me and reccommended a book called ""Charlie has asthma"" and its about a little cheetah who has asthma and gets out of puff easily. I've ordered it and when it arrives I'll let you know how it goes but I'm still open to suggestions.

Owl that would be really great if you could do that for me.

Thanks again for your suggestions and support




no wise doctor replies as yet!

just thinking, from what you have said, Holly is realising that what she does can affect her asthma- that running about can make it worse, and perhaps that nebs etc can make it better. Maybe she is exploring how much control she has over it - sometimes she can make a difference, other times she can't. We all go through the processs of balancing risks and benefits of doing things - and maybe she is at the stage of realising that she has choices about some of these things - does she run about with friends knowing that it might make her wheeze, or does she sit still and miss the fun.

Maybe she in some way needs to know that it is ok to make those choices, that it is ok to run about, but that sometimes she isn't well enough and then she should choose not to. And that there are some things she can choose to do (like take her meds) that will have a positive effect. And to begin to understand that while these things make a difference in the short term, they don't change the fact that she has crappy asthma (perhaps not in those words!), which is something that even the specialists who look after her and you her parents who love her very much cannot change.

Don't know if that makes sense, or if it is what is really going on, but I just wondered if it might be part of it.

Will let you know if I come up with bright medic type answers.




I cant really help in terms of children with asthma as it is me that has asthma but my daughter is 6 and has cerebral palsy - the only way it affects her is that she walks with a limp and wears splints some of the time. She dances, swims, rides ponies and a bike just like any other child but she has even asked me ""what did I do wrong when I was a baby to get a gamee leg?"" and she is always saying she runs slower than everyone else.

It is heartbreaking - I have been in tears many times over this. All I can say is that as she has got older, she has got on with things without thinking about it too much. When she was younger, she did not really notice, however by 4 / 5 she began to resent her splints and got upset. I have tried to explain to her that she has a wobbly leg because everybody is different and most people have some part of their body that needs help to work (even if we cant see it) - her cousin has dyslexia and has glasses to help with her wobbly eye, another cousin has asthma (and so does mummy) and have inhalers to help with wobbly lungs and she has a wobbly leg and has splints to help.

It is hard, very hard and being the mummy having to explain is heart renching. Hope shes feeling better x


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