Parenting a child with chronic illness can be a challenge for the whole family. Emotions like anger, sadness and worry, paired with unrelenting treatment schedules, medications and disruptions to family routine, all contribute to stress at home.
Amid the stress of chronic illness, it’s tempting to let challenging behaviour and emotional outbursts slide. It can be quite common for parents to overcompensate for the demands treatment places on your child. But like all children, those with CF do best when they’re held to standards of behaviour and have clear boundaries and routines.
Parenting Tips and Suggestions
Communicate openly about CF with your child. This will allow them to be open with any worries they may be having. It will encourage strong communication and potentially reduce the likelihood of your child bottling up emotions. Taking opportunities to communicate respectfully with your child will teach them valuable life skills.
Maintaining a Routine
Children function best when their environment is predictable and consistent. Establishing a routine helps children to feel safe and secure; they develop a sense of mastery over activities which helps foster independence. You can do this by making sure your child goes to bed, wakes up, and eats healthy meals at regular, predictable times.
Establish Limits and Behavioural Expectations
Children behave better when there is clear expectations and consistent limits. Put simply, this means ‘follow through with what you say’. When possible, provide opportunities for your child to make decisions, as this will promote independence and confidence. Clear expectations and firm limits help your child to become emotionally well-adjusted and successful in managing their chronic illness.
Take Care of Yourself
Parenting is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs you can have. It can be easy to compare yourself to others and be critical of your parenting. While social media has benefits, it is important to remember that it is often a highlight reel of peoples’ lives, and that the stressors of being a parent are universal. Be kind to yourself, and trust that you are doing the best that you can. Making time for self-care is also important.
If you would like further support, please contact our social work team at CFWA. We can discuss further strategies and make referrals to agencies including Ngala, who offer parenting workshops and programmes.
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