Helping Your Child Cope

Your child’s personality, age, support system and treatment will affect how he copes with having a transplant. When children are faced with stress, their normal behaviors may change. Your child may become more dependent on you, make act younger than their age, or may not know how to handle their feelings.


Infants (birth – 12 months)

Your child expects you to meet his or her needs. Your child does not understand intestinal transplant. Common issues and fears for an infant include:


Fear of Separation

  • Try to be with your infant as much as possible.

  • When you do have to go, leave something of yours like a shirt, for comfort.

Fear of Strangers

  • Try to have the same people care for your child inside and outside the hospital as much as possible.

  • Limit the number of visitors and voices inside the room at once.

Development

  • Use gentle touch to comfort your child.

  • Allow your child to explore toys with their hands and mouth.

  • Sense of safety.

  • Wake up your infant before painful procedures.

  • Develop normal routines (I.e. feeding, bedtime, bathing).


Toddlers (12 months – 3 years)

Toddlers begin to do more on their own, they are in the ‘me do’ or ‘no’ phase. You should help your child understand how their body works and explain the transplant in his or her terms.


Fear of Separation or Fear of Strangers

  • Try to be with your toddler as much as possible.

  • When you do have to go, leave something of yours like a shirt, for comfort.

  • When leaving, tell them when you will be back.

  • Provide them with security objects, such as a special blanket or stuffed animal.

Loss of Control

  • Allow your child to make choices, but do not offer a choice when there is not one.

  • Give your toddler a job to do.

  • Allow him or her to play and be in control of the game or activity.

Loss of Normal Routine

  • Maintain normal routines (i.e. bedtime, eating).

  • Let your child play with favorite toys.

Behavior Changes

  • Give your child a safe way to express anger and feelings, such as painting or coloring.

  • Tell your child it is okay to feel angry, sad, or confused.

  • Set limits and give discipline if needed.

  • Praise your child whenever possible.

Fear of Treatment

  • Ensure your child he or she did nothing wrong, there is no one to blame.

  • Use simple pictures, words, or books to tell what will happen.

  • Tell your child what will happen just before the treatment.


Preschoolers (3-5 years)

Preschoolers are at the age in which they take pride in doing things for themselves. They may get confused and may think the hospital is a punishment for something they did wrong.


Fear of Treatment

  • Ensure your child he or she did nothing wrong, there is no one to blame.

  • Use simple pictures, words, or books to tell what will happen.

  • Tell your child what will happen just before the treatment.

  • Let your child play with doctor kits and safe medical supplies.

Loss of Control

  • Allow your child to make choices, but do not offer a choice when there is not one.

  • Give your toddler a job to do.

Loss of Normal Routines or Behavior

  • Praise your child for doing things by themselves.

  • Give your child time to adjust to the changes.

  • Use play or drawing/art to help your child show his or her feelings.


School Age (6-12 years)

School-age children also take pride in doing these themselves. Your child is able to think in terms of cause-and-effect and is able to understand how his or her body works, but probably not in medical terms.


Loss of Control:

  • Allow your child to make choices, but do not offer a choice when there is not one.

  • Give your child a job to do.

  • Let your child go to school or do schoolwork.

  • Provide games and activities.

  • Being away from friends and school.

  • Let friends visit when appropriate.

  • Have your child engage with friends and family over social media, facetime, phone calls, or writing letters.

Fear of Harm to Body or Fear of Unknown

  • Use simple words, pictures, books, or educational videos to tell your child what will happen.

  • Let your child play with safe medical supplies.

  • Tell your child what will happen a few days before the treatment and let them ask questions.


Teenagers (13 years to 18 years)

Teens see themselves as individuals and want to be independent. Friends are particularly important and your child wants to be liked by their peers around them. Illness usually causes teens to mature faster than their peers around them and see things from a different point of view.


Loss of Control or Independence

  • Allow your teen to make choices.

  • Let your teen be as active as possible in school and social activities.

  • Involve your teen in the treatment plan and when talking to the transplant team.

  • Have your team do as much self-care as possible.

  • Your teen should be a key player in his or her own care.

Body image or Self-Esteem

  • Talk with your teen about his or her feelings.

  • Praise your teen for things he or she does well.

  • Allow your teen to do things that make them feel good about themselves.

Loss of Privacy

  • Respect the need of your teen to do things by themselves, try not to hover.

  • Offer your teen private time, you do not to be with your teen 100% of the time, they can take care of themselves.

Separation from Peers

  • Provide time with peers, if appropriate.

  • Allow friends to visit and call.

  • Allow your teen to use social media outlets to connect with friends.

Concern for the Future

  • Answer questions open and honest.

  • Help your teen develop a plan for the future, but make sure it is realistic for his or her health state.

  • Help your teen engage in normal activities as tolerated.

Behavioral Changes

  • Help your teen find ways to express his or her anger in safe, productive ways.

  • Ensure your teens feeling are normal and there isn’t need for further investigation, such as anxiety or depression.

Source can be found here. (#16)

Helping Your Child Cope