Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Caring for and Empowering your Child

Ultimately, no one knows how to better care for your child than you do. As a parent, you have instincts, passion, and most of all love – all these things mean that you are perfectly capable of giving your child the best care possible. However, when you learn that your child has been diagnosed with a CHD, most parents can’t help but wonder, “How do I care for my child?” We all second-guess our parenting abilities from time to time, but when you have a child with extra needs, we may find ourselves second-guessing our actions even more. Here are some specific things that parents of children with a CHD should consider when providing care for their children.

Although many of the day-to-day tasks such as special feedings, looking out for signs of problems or complications, or administering medicines actually become like second nature and relatively “easy” over time, other issues within the realm of caring for our children are what cause us to doubt ourselves. One of these issues involves how to treat our children when it comes to addressing their illness. Whether your child is diagnosed with a CHD in infancy or later in childhood, you’ll have to explain to him or her things such as why they have a surgical scar, why they need to visit the doctor/hospital more frequently than some other children, why they must take medication every day, etc. Many parents think they can’t handle or shouldn’t address these issues; however, it is by addressing these issues and having these types of discussions with your child that makes your care for them even that much better.

Besides communicating with and educating your child, the main advice that numerous child psychologists and doctors will give regarding this issue is to encourage your child to become involved in their own care (when/if they are emotionally and physically able of course). This makes children feel much more confident and in control – children will most likely think, “Wow, if Mommy and Daddy trust me to take care of myself I must be doing great!” It’s a great tool to empower your child and yourself. Depending on the level of care your child requires, the doctor or other members of the medical team can give you specific instructions regarding how to incorporate your child in the caretaking process. And at the end of the day, involving your child in their own caregiving is the best way you as their parent can care for them as well.