Ostomies, especially for children, give the impression that they will prevent them from participating in activities. However, this isn’t necessarily true. While it’s an inconvenience not experienced by other children, those with an ostomy can still do all the same things – play sports, go swimming, ride bikes, etc.

Ostomies are particularly difficult with children than adults for a few reasons. The first reason is that an ostomy can make them feel “different” from the other children. This can develop resentment, shyness, and embarrassment. There are many situations that children face – for instance, changing in locker rooms – that can make a child fearful or embarrassed.

Here are a few tips for helping your child with Ostomy:

  • The best thing you can do is respond positively and informatively about ostomy. Children respond to your reactions. Explain ostomy to them clearly or have a doctor do it. Answer their questions, and do your best to keep an open dialogue about the ostomy.
  • If your child is uncomfortable speaking about it, respect their privacy and ensure they’re properly managing their ostomy if they’re at an age to do so on their own.
  • Speak with your child’s school teachers, counselors and principals. Let them know the situation up front so the teachers to help facilitate their comfort around other students.
  • Emptying or changing an Ostomy appliance can be stressful for a child who is at school or among their peers. When present, help them find a comfortable place to do so. If they’re at school, also ensure the staff understand and can assist with finding a private place – for instance, in the nurse’s office or discreetly in a bathroom.

A final note on children is that having an ostomy requires responsibility on their part to take care of their stoma and maintaining their ostomy appliances. Nothing is more difficult for a child managing their ostomy than not having the right tools available to them when they need it. Help your child by ensuring they always have the right tools, pastes, pouches, and barriers at all times in case they are in need of an appliance change or cleaning.  Assist them with any preparations needed for their appliances, like cutting the wafer.  Also be sure they have a good understanding of all of the tools, pastes, and powders needed and how to use them properly.