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Use love to help a sick child feel better


Last updated 1/18/2020 at 12:41am

Ah, ‘tis the season for many households to find themselves with one or more children suffering from a cold or the flu. Damp, chilly weather and all that contact with other sniffling children at school almost guarantees that winter illness will strike most homes.

Most people are well aware of the medical steps to help their child get better, or at least feel better, but they sometimes forget there are emotional things they can do to help their child, too. That can be important because children often feel bad about feeling bad. Have the children ever apologized for being ill, saying, “Mom, I’m sorry I'm sick?”

So, how to help? Start with a smile. If their parent is looking worried and concerned when approaching their ill child, they are going to begin worrying about why their parent looks so worried.

Instead of asking, “How are you feeling?” when it’s already clear that they are not feeling well, try to offer something positive. Tell the child that they are looking a little better, have gotten some of their color back or seem a little cooler. Assure them that their parent is doing their job to help them return to good health.

One of the best medicines for a sick child, regardless of age, is being generous with hugs and cuddles. While it can be tempting to plop them in front of the TV and just check in occasionally, offering physical contact that encourages positive feelings of safety brings better results.

Instead of TV time, trying snuggling with the child while reading a story or playing a game. If there is to be some TV time, spend at least part of it with them, holding hands while watching together.

There’s no question that the mind has the power to affect people’s health. Talk with the sick child about imagining feeling better, and their parent might find it can actually help them feel that way.

They also might want to listen to the child. Encourage them to talk about what’s being felt. If it’s something as simple as a tummy ache, it may be that the cause is the stress of the day and not an illness.

No one ever wants their child to not feel well, but a loving, supportive parent with an encouraging positive attitude can often make a child feel better faster.

Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Send comments and questions to [email protected] or visit


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