You have just returned from a hectic day at work. As you go over to fetch little Justin from the baby sitter, you notice that your little one is not quite himself. His body is warm and the baby sitter informs you that he has just vomited twice. Your anxiety mounts as you bring him to the paediatrician. After coming home from the doctor’s visit, you and your spouse stay up all night worrying and tending to your sick little one.

This scenario is so common in our modern homes these days. While it is fully understandable for parents to feel anxious whenever their child falls ill, such circumstances can still be viewed in a positive light. Having some of these positive attitudes will certainly help parents remain calm and reap benefits even during such worrying moments:

Illness builds memories

What incidents do we, as adults, remember of our parents’ love during our childhood? There may be many but they almost always include times when parents cared for us during our illness. Such memories are important in the long run. Even after the children had long grown up, these memories will form the basis of their relationship with their loved ones and other people. The memories of how they were being cared for during their childhood illnesses will prompt them to care for others the same way.

In addition, such memories often serve to remind the children of our unconditional love for them even during difficult times. If we build enough of such memories in our children, no matter how far they may stray away from us in later years (especially during adolescence), they will always find their way back to us again because of the memories we have built in them.

So, when your children fall ill, fuss over them, pamper them. Take leave from work if you must. Start building memories in your children that will last a lifetime.

Illness is a teachable moment

Children are very temperamental creatures. They are not always open to learn new things. Most of the time, when we try to teach children something important, they are either not paying attention, or even if they do pay attention, they would just smile and run off to do their own activities, as if nothing registered in their young minds. However, there are time pockets where they are more receptive to learning. These time pockets are called teachable moments. And these moments occur ever so frequently when the child is sick. You can identify a teachable moment by how focused and responsive your child is to what you have to say. So use this time to talk (not nag) to them about important attitudes and values.

At times, you can use a particular illness to illustrate a point. A few months ago, I saw a nine-year-old girl with an infected wound following a mosquito bite. The infection probably set in due to her excessive scratching. The mother also complained that the child had very bad temper. So I used the opportunity to get across a very important lesson. “You know, Julie (not her real name),” I started. “Getting angry is very much like the mosquito bite you had. But if you do not control your anger, it will hurt you a lot more, as much as this wound is hurting you now.”

Illnessi is a learning experience

When your child comes down with an illness, it is helpful for you to gather as much information and experience as possible about the illness. The more of these learning experience you go through, the less likely you will become over-anxious the next time the illness comes. I have a long- time friend who used to call me up regularly to ask for advice whenever her children fell ill. After a couple of years, she had become so well versed with various illnesses that she was able to handle most of her children’s illnesses on her own, just occasionally calling me up to double check. She has reached a stage where she can take charge of her children’s health.

Illness builds family bonds

When a child falls sick, the whole family would usually rally around with one common goal – to ensure the child becomes well again. This form of unity is a strong stimulus to building solid family bonds. I recently had an opportunity to make a home visit to treat a nine-year old child who was wheel-chair bound. In the home I noticed how the whole family, the father, mother, siblings, grandmother and maid showed so much concern and care for the sick child. Through the child’s illness, I believe the family ties have been further strengthened. I told the siblings, “Your sister cannot care for herself now. So it is your responsibility to care for her and help her get well again.”

However, each family member must be careful not to start blaming the child, blaming themselves or blaming each other during the child’s illness. How often do we hear parents say, “Oh I’m a bad mother,” or “It’s all your fault. You shouldn’t have allowed him to have the iced drink” Such remarks would not help the situation at all and may make the situation worse by getting everyone tensed up.

Certainly no parent would want their children to fall ill. However, getting sick is part and parcel of everyday life. Therefore, it is crucial that parents look towards the positive aspects of illness. Through this, parents like you may find that illnesses aren’t such a bad thing after all.

Being Positive During Your Child’s Illness
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