Chronic Illnesses in Children and Nursing


The symptoms or consequences of chronic illnesses can occur throughout the lifespan. In the case of children, in addition to the fact that a child needs to cope with issues in health, the minor also needs to go through different stages on the path from childhood to adulthood. The task of parents, in this case, is to form the child’s habits of leading a lifestyle that will be as close to healthy and safe as possible and provide the minor with the necessary care. In addition, parents should be able to form a correct attitude towards the chronic condition. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of parents at different stages of child’s development, the influence of such complex situations on families, and the role of care providers.

Parenting Role

It is significant for the parent to gather reliable information about the child’s illness from evidence-based literature and discussions with specialists. It will help dispel doubts and fears that arise in the first stage in the case of both parent and the child (Williams et al., 2009). It is essential to tell the minor about the illness in simple and understandable terms so that the information corresponds to his or her age and level of intellectual development. Thus, the parenting role at this stage is the provision of physical assistance to the minor and general emotional support.

When a child is growing (especially close to 10-12 years of age), he or she will begin to comprehend the mechanisms of disease onset and development. He or she will have some knowledge of physiological mechanisms and will try to take care of his or her health independently. Therefore, the parent will take on a supporting function assisting the minor and directing him or her both physiologically and psychologically.

When a child enters puberty and matures further, he or she will know much about the disease and will have the skills to be able to take care of him or herself with additional help from the side of parents, when necessary (Williams et al., 2009). The main function of the parent at this stage is psychological and emotional assistance. It is crucial to make sure that the child does not have erroneous ideas about the nature of the illness and to help get rid of misconceptions. However, the main factor is the trust and support of adults since frequently children can become depressed and have certain complexes because of their condition. It is significant for a parent to use contemporary, highly effective methods of psychological rehabilitation to help the child adapt to this situation and find ways of adequate self-affirmation.

Family Members and Friends

It is important to note that in a situation when a family has a child with chronic illness, the care is focused on the patient and the family is seen as a mediator for interventions. However, the family’s problems and needs are disregarded, and the child’s illness becomes a traumatic factor for his or her closest people. Parents can show coldness or irritability towards each other, siblings might develop certain fears, guilt or depressive moods, and friends can become distant because the child becomes central to all activities (Lane & Mason, 2014). In this regard, psychological analysis of the family situation and psychotherapeutic assistance to the entire family are important.

Provider’s Role

Healthcare providers should help parents and other family members to adapt to the situation. It is necessary to encourage parents and close people to take care of the child in the best possible way without ignoring their personal needs (Lane & Mason, 2014). It is also crucial to contribute to the constructive engagement of the family, the child, the society, and health professionals. Direct and open communication and mutual support will not only improve the quality of child’s life but also of all the key stakeholders.

References

Lane, C., & Mason, J. (2014). Meeting the needs of siblings of children with life-limiting illnesses. Nursing Children and Young People, 26(3), 16-20.

Williams, P. D., Ridder, E. L., Setter, R. K., Liebergen, A., Curry, H., Piamjariyakul, U., & Williams, A. R. (2009). Pediatric chronic illness (cancer, cystic fibrosis) effects on well siblings: Parents’ voices. Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing, 32(2), 94-113.