Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Raising a Sick Child

Raising a Sick Child

Raising a sick child can earn frequent flyer miles at the emergency room.

It’s the biggest bombshell a parent can get. Your child is sick. Not “the flu” sick, or “an ear infection” sick. Your child has been diagnosed with a major illness. You are no longer dealing with just the usual chaos of raising a child. You are now responsible for raising a sick child. Information overload, blood work, record keeping and a laundry list of red flags are the norm, not the exception. Consequently, parents of such children could use my advice.

This article is crafted from my upbringing with diabetes. It is the result of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the wonderful. As a result you will see my thoughts on an “ideal” strategy in which parent and sick child literally make each others’ lives easier during this difficult process. Subsequently, the process grows more balanced and manageable for all parties. Whereas each child will have unique capabilities and limitations, feel free to adapt all of the advice below, or only those that are applicable.

Additionally, many of these techniques serve parents very well with healthy children as well

Raising a Sick Child Requires Normalcy

  • No free pass for disciplinary problems – lifelong impact
  • Assign chores according to physical ability/stamina
  • Maintain requirements for study time – lifelong impact
  • Breed healthy social and interpersonal skills – lifelong impact
  • Give healthy siblings their time and recognition

Create Routines

  • Glucose testing, insulin, medication admin
  • Wound care
  • Tracking vital signs
  • SCHEDULE these and build around school, sports, study time
  • Structure does wonders

Let Them Be Kids

  • Encourage as close to normal play as possible
  • Let them get outside and get dirty (if safe)
  • TAKE THEM FISHING AND HUNTING. The more time outside, the better.
  • Allow sports as much as medically allowed
  • Encourage social activities as much as possible

Raising a Sick Child Requires Problem Solving

  • “Let’s fix this” mentality vs. doom-and-gloom – lifelong impact
  • Coach, don’t criticize -lifelong impact
  • Same positive process as with academics – lifelong impact
  • Involve the sick child in decision-making process ASAP – lifelong impact
  • Breed independence via “you can do it” attitude – lifelong impact
  • Remind child he/she is smart, talented, and capable of anything daily – lifelong impact
  • See a pattern here? Set children up to take the ball and run with it

Aim for Excellence not Perfection

  • Coach, don’t criticize (see a pattern here?)
  • Realize the “goal posts” move as children grow
  • Recognize what you can control, and what you can’t
  • Teach your child what they can control, and what they cannot

Raising a Sick Child Includes Parental Self Care

  • MAKE and SCHEDULE time to exercise
  • Find a local support group with other parents
  • Reach out to clinical behavioral health regularly
  • SCHEDULE dates and alone time

Avoid Burnout at All Costs

  • Try to avoid mixing medical, personal, and family time
  • Hear your sick child out when they’re stressed
  • Hear your sick child’s healthy siblings out and let them vent
  • Have healthy outlets for your own stress
  • Reach out to clinical behavioral health regularly

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