The child with a serious medical illness is at risk for developing associated emotional
problems. Unlike a child with a temporary sickness such as the flu, the child with a chronic illness must cope with knowing
that the disease is here to stay and may even get worse. Child and adolescent psychiatrists point out that almost all of these
children initially refuse to believe they are ill, and later feel guilt and anger.
The young child, unable to understand why
the sickness has occurred, may assume it is a punishment for being "bad." He or she may become angry with parents and doctors
for not being able to cure the illness. The youngster may react strongly against pampering, teasing, or other attention. Uncomfortable
treatments, and restrictions in diet and activity may make the child bitter and withdrawn. To help your child deal with the
disease you need to give them honest, accurate, and age appropriate information to help them understand.
A teenager with a long-term illness may feel pulled in opposite directions. On the
one hand, he or she must take care of the physical problem, requiring dependence on parents and doctors. On the other hand,
the adolescent wants to become independent and join his or her friends in various activities.
When a teenager with a long-term illness tries to decrease or stop taking the prescribed
medication without consulting with the physician, this often shows a normal adolescent desire to take charge of one's own