Children are amazing when it comes to bouncing back! It’s almost as if they are meant to be a little tougher in order to make it to adulthood. And one of the biggest assets they have is YOU.
No matter what a child is going through, he or she needs to know that they are not in it alone. The strategies that you - Mom, Dad, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and friends - teach them now can not only help them through their current situation, but long into adulthood. So what are some of the things that can help them succeed, especially if they are dealing with an illness?
1. “Open Door Policy”
Allow your child to share with you whenever, however, and as often as needed. This will not only validate his or her experience, thoughts and/or feelings by having an adult take it all seriously, it will enable them to learn how to seek out help from others and build trust. It is also an excellent opportunity to help them navigate how to advocate for themselves.
2. “An Apple a Day…”
Nutrition is a buzzword that can create angst or enthusiasm in someone’s mind. Don’t worry - this is not an “eat this, don’t eat that” sort of guide. But what we eat does impact how we’re able to function - for better or for worse. When your child is sick, be sure to check with your doctor about what types of foods may help them with medication or treatment side effects; what may react poorly; and especially what can help them get an upper hand in staying healthier and building up their body’s systems as they continue to grow. Guiding healthier eating habits now will help them as they gain more independence in making those choices when you’re not around.
3. “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”
Spring is here and summer is quickly on its heels. Staying active and playing can be difficult during the summer - sickness or no sickness - and sunshine can be such an inviting call to help us all have a little more fun. Help your child find some new interests that are within his or her physical ability to manage with that illness. It can be exploration walks with magnifying glasses, fizzy volcanoes (made OUTDOORS to save our floors), or on days that are a little more draining - taking in some fresh air on the back steps. Fun is always good medicine and children with broad interests can find things to brighten even the cloudiest days!
Kids can be so imaginative and with some good guidance, they can come up with some pretty spectacular ways to cope with their difficult situations. Be sure to check in with them to understand their daily needs and have a few ideas to help prime the pump!
Need more ideas to help your child “just keep swimming?” Reach out to us at the Olivia Caldwell Foundation to visit with Katelin, our Patient Advocate. We love watching kids overcome!