Children with chronic illnesses
All life has its share of suffering
Everyone has health problems sometime or the other in life and these are not uncommon in childhood. Most of these conditions may be mild, they come and go and do not interfere with daily living. However some children may have long lasting or chronic illnesses, which can affect their day-to-day life throughout childhood. These illnesses do not just carry a physical component but are always accompanied by psychological, social, familial and emotional implications because they impact the child’s self esteem, confidence and personality.
Asthma, Diabetes, Anemia, Cancer, AIDS, Epilepsy, Heart problems, Eczema; are physical ailments that are long lasting. Coping with these can be challenging for children, parents, siblings as well as friends. Such children have frequent nursing home or hospital visits; some may have painful treatments (multiple injections in diabetes) or scary manifestations (fits in epilepsy) or feelings of inadequacy. Children with chronic conditions:
- Are unable to understand why the illness occurred to them and they are the ‘unlucky’ ones
- Tend to get angry with their parents and doctors for not being able to cure their condition
- Feel that they are very different from other children even if parents treat them as alike
- Feel upset that they alone have to go through several uncomfortable medical treatments
- Feel that they are different from other children and feel victimized and as if punished
- Have limitations as compared to other children in terms of activity and opportunities
- Blame themselves for trouble that their parent have to go through due to their condition
- May get anxious, depressed and aggressive and also develop insecurity and timidity
- May become defiant and not follow the treatment needed for the underlying condition
Impact on family and friends
At times in an attempt to be sympathetic to their children they may withhold information because they don’t want their children to worry unnecessarily. This may backfire and be misinterpreted by children who tend to lose faith in their parents and become defiant. Parents play a significant role in their children’s development; irrespective of whether they are healthy or not. It is important for parents to understand that they can help by providing age appropriate information about the disease, prognosis and the importance of compliance to treatments to minimize advancement or to control the symptoms. Siblings may feel left out since the sick child always tends to get all the attention from everyone around. Family disruptions can also occur due to guilt and blame. Often couples tend to have more interpersonal discord as one may blame the other for the child’s condition.
Handle with care
Your child with a chronic illness needs opportunities to connect with other children, to feel normal, to feel the same and not different from them. In many ways these children are more special because they go that extra step and face that added struggle to overcome their physical problems and be at par with others. They deserve your unswerving and unconditional support to help them build on their confidence and boost their morale.
It becomes a big deal if you make it one
The care team for a child with a chronic illness such as diabetes, congenital conditions, asthma, epilepsy or physical deficits essentially includes the primary treating physician. Often enough there are several specialists involved in the care of these children too. The children need to identify themselves as brave fighters, who are capable of withstanding the pressures that the illness puts on their back and fight their way through life with zest and vigor. They need to know that they are not alone and that each one of has a predestined path carved out for them.Such children can often turn out stronger and become higher achievers by over compensating for the deficit that the illness creates. MINDFRAMES offers professional help from experts, which aids in inculcating positive coping strategies and mature defense mechanisms in the child, as well as the family. This assures smooth growth and development in the child without leaving feelings of intellectual, social or moral insufficiency. Every child deserves utmost care and understanding so that they develop optimally and don’t lose any opportunity that drives them to the personal, academic, social and emotional success that is their well deserved share.