Supporting Children With Chronic Health Conditions
to Build Resilience
Families who have children living with a chronic condition are well versed in the daily challenges that their child may have, and how living with a medical condition can potentially affect their mental health and wellbeing.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back after adversity. Children are born with a level of inbuilt resilience and this can be built upon as they grow. For children with chronic conditions, there will likely be a higher chance of them having to call on their reserves – issues with social inclusion, missed school due to medical appointments, uncertainty with their diagnosis or a flare in their condition… and the list goes on.
One of the biggest protective factors of resilience for a child with a chronic condition is a supportive and loving family but there are many ways to help your child build resilience. Here, Clare Hussein offers some tips;
– Look after yourself
There is a reason you should put your oxygen mask on first and that is so you are well equipped to be able to help others. This is the same when you are caring for a child with a chronic condition. Not only will you be more able to face any challenges, but you will be showing your child the importance of self care.
– Role model
Show your child how to deal with stress in a positive way. This is easier said than done, especially when the emotional load is heavy, but children always take more from watching us than what we say. Always remember that a certain level of stress is usual and needed in certain situations, it is when it overflows into everyday life that it can become an issue.
– Cultivate talents
Focus and encourage your child’s individual talents and achievements. Help your child to have the opportunity to cultivate their likes and talents so they can have time to relax and enjoy their downtime. This will help them to build on their stress management techniques by giving them an outlet.
Play is so important and so underrated – it is not just for babies! It helps children to figure out what they are good at, gives them a creative outlet and highlights what they like and how they can develop imagination and emotional wellbeing. This prepares them for real life situations.
– Problem solving
There is so much power in a person feeling like they are important and when they contribute to their environment it helps to foster a sense of belonging. It is beneficial to provide your child with opportunities to problem solve. This can be something like here are the ingredients we have for dinner, what can we make? Show your child how to work through any issues that come up and enable them to have an active role within their life and the family.
– Support systems
This is so important and extends from your child’s close family, to the community around them and further out into society. These relationships with others provide connection and brings a sense of belonging and importance. Life is easier to deal with when you know you have someone who will support you unconditionally.
Resilience will not be built overnight; it is an ongoing process with many peaks and troughs along the way. Sometimes it can feel like just another thing to add to the to do list but when the benefits are seen and your child bounces back after a set back, you will know it was worth it.
Clare Hussein is the founder of The Allergy Collective, which is an online support platform for families with children who have severe allergies. Clare provides helpful tips and tools to support their mental health and wellbeing using education, mindfulness and gratitude practices.