23 Jun How To Fearlessly Parent a Sick Kid (Even When You’re Afraid)
When your child is suffering, you want to heal them. At the same time, you may find yourself faced with healing your own inherited family attitude about illness.
Your imprint may include drama, complaining, avoidance, over-treatment and paralyzing fear. These bubble up for us when our kids are sick.
I’m going to coach you on how to resist the demons of your past — so you can raise a kid who will not fear your projections more than their own illness.
Can you hold your fears in a space and simply be present for your child without infecting them with your history?
When you do, you are building a family legacy of wellness for your kids and for their kids.
So how do you move past the fear factor and help your kids heal?
Here are three simple steps that will make a world of difference:
1. Reflect back to your kid exactly what they are saying about how they feel.
When you do, they’ll feel heard and acknowledged — even empowered to come up with their own ideas about what could make them feel better.
“I hear that you are hot and sticky.”
“I get it. Your tummy really hurts.”
“Yes, you are soooo tired and sleepy.”
“Your head is hurting.”
Say it lovingly. You may need to say it several times. Be patient.
2. Be conscious of keeping emotional and verbal drama out of the situation.
This doesn’t mean you’re minimizing their pain, just striving to describe it as factually and calmly as you can.
Avoid saying, “You’re burning up!” Really, is your kid gonna combust? Try, “Your fever is working hard to get those bugs out of your system.”
Avoid saying, “You have that horrible barf bug that is going around! This is gonna take days to get over and you will have to miss school!” (said with panic in your voice). How about, “You’ll be able to rest at home for as long as you need to feel like yourself again.”
Your energy around what you say is as important as the words you choose.
If you feel panicked by your kid’s symptoms, simply take a break. You could go into your bedroom and yell into a pillow, then return calmly to them and face the music. (And even play the music that soothes them!)
If you are feeling scared, take a deep breath and ask yourself if the fear is real. Ask your partner to take over for awhile and get a little change of scene so you can cope better. When you allow your emotions to dissipate, you create a healing environment for yourself and your family.
3. Reaffirm the process, not the predicament.
The word “sometimes” is a simple way to normalize the process an illness goes through.
Say, “Sometimes your body doesn’t feel good.”
Say, “Sometimes your body needs a fever to reset itself.”
Say, “Sometimes your body has to grow out its immune system, and after this, you’ll be stronger than ever.”
Don’t tell them to buck up and feel better. Do tell them you’ll be there while they’re going through this.
People feel seen and heard when we reflect back to them where they are without creating energy around solving the problem or moving away from it. Simply be with your child. Hug and snuggle them while they say what they need to make them feel better.
Notice how your own projections and fears can play into your language. It’s okay to be afraid — it’s a survival mechanism — but transferring your fear onto your child won’t help them. Being aware of your reactions and giving your child calm, steady reassurance is great for healing. If you can’t figure out anything helpful to say, just hold them and breathe with them.
You may fear your child will need serious medical intervention. To remove that energy, take notice of your pangs and reactions, and let them float away. Then if intervention is required, you will be capable and calm enough to handle the emergency.
Use this as your mantra for putting dis-ease into perspective:
90% of childhood illnesses are normal and necessary for the development of your child’s immune system.
Even if your child’s illness falls on the more serious end of the spectrum, your ability to remain present, calm and loving will create a healing atmosphere everyone can cope with better.
Get my tip sheet HERE on the first (baby) steps toward how to speak the words of wellness to your kids.