Parent Skill #12 — Empowering your child

Chronic illness will force your child to be more dependent upon you. While children of all ages can find this loss of autonomy a troubling development, it is particularly alarming for adolescents. Being forced into an increasingly dependent relationship interferes with the child's natural maturation. It is important to allow your child to control those aspects of life that are negotiable. This will allow your child to maintain some sense of control and mastery.

Wheelchair. For the toddler, choices may include what to wear, what to eat and when to take a bath. The school-age child can make more sophisticated choices: who will accompany me to the clinic, which homework assignment should be done first and what pain control to use during medical procedures.

Adolescents (and older school-age children) should be encouraged to make choices about their health care, becoming part of the team making health care decisions. Your hospital may have a copy of rights for pediatric patients and their parents. Request a copy, and see if there are other ways your child and you may become empowered in the health care setting.

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