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Watchful Parenting: 4 Keys to Caring for a Child with a Chronic Illness

Being a parent is not easy, especially if your child happens to have a chronic physical impairment, mental illness or some kind of physical or mental impairment like blindness or Down syndrome. Most parents dealing with one or a combination of these problems with their child go through a range of emotions and tend to develop their own psychological and physical problems from stress and fatigue.

Most of the emotions and reactions are natural, and any physical byproducts experienced by the parents can be managed or reversed. Sometimes parents will receive the news about their children either before or around the time of birth, but there are some parents that do not find out until later.

If you are a parent of a child dealing with a chronic physical or psychological illness, understand that there are resources for nearly any medical problem and help available for you and your child. Below are four different keys to caring for a child with a chronic illness.

Plan for Procedures

Unexpected stress is tougher to manage than anticipated stress. Some procedures and appointments can cause psychological and physical distress. Most children will do better if they have a few days to mentally or physically prepare, and other kids might make it worse by worrying.

Making sure you have good communication skills in these cases is necessary. Maybe your child will or has changed. For example, anticipation may have caused anxiety when they were younger, but now, they prefer to mentally prepare.

Give Them Updates on Their Health Status

Your child is a person with thoughts and feelings, so it is critical that you discuss what their illness is and what may happen to them in the future. Make sure you give your explanation and answer their questions while keeping in mind their age and maturity level.

If your child has a mental illness, it may help to find a with plenty of experience and education such as a mental health counselor degree to help your child understand and cope with their health issues. Let the child know there are new procedures and operations being developed all the time.

Be Flexible

If you want to help your child adapt to their chronic illness, there are two things you have to do starting in infancy. First, you have to recognize all their physical and psychological limitations. Lastly, you have to assist with continuing to live life as usual.

Education for Yourself

You have to be constantly proactive about seeking information about your child’s condition. As discussed in this article, there are schools teaching students to use new technology, develop and prescribe new drugs, use new therapy techniques and more. Read about the breakthroughs and trials related to your child’s condition, then write them down to discuss at the next doctor’s appointment.

If you are proactive about your child’s chronic illness, then you can alter your family’s quality of life for the better. Also, you can mitigate the effects and negative impacts of your child’s chronic illness. Doing these things will also help your chronically ill child have more positive experiences in an already difficult life. In the end, whether your child realizes it or not, you will have drastically improved their quality of existence and given them peace in their life.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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