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Mended Little HeartGuide

Table of Introduction Contents SECTION Building Positive Self Esteem in Children With CHD Many parents and caregivers of children with CHD worry that their kids will lack self-esteem because of their illness and/or scars. All children have phases where they feel better or worse about themselves. Your child will experience the same thing. These phases are normal, but your child may associate negative feelings with his or her CHD. While kids, especially teens, do struggle with feeling “different” from their peers, there are things you can do to help your child build a positive self-image: Check your own attitude first. The attitudes of parents and primary caregivers have the greatest impact on a child’s attitude and beliefs about him- or herself. If parents believe their children are fragile, sickly, weak or helpless, that is exactly what their kids will believe. Parents who are angry about their child’s CHD or feel sorry for their child make their sons and daughters feel like victims and teach them that their CHD is something shameful that should be hidden. If you put yourself down or are angry, over-tired or always stressed, children are more likely to go down the same path. Avoid negative statements about yourself, too, so your child will be less likely to copy that behavior. It is understandable and normal to have negative feelings about CHD. It isn’t fair that your child has to have surgeries, medical procedures, medications, many appointments, etc., but most children are a lot stronger and more resilient than we think they are … if we allow them to be. Stay positive. That doesn’t mean denying your child’s CHD, but it does mean thinking of your child as your son or daughter first rather than as a CHD patient. One trick parents can use is what we call “pattern About My Child’s Heart PLAY VIDEO Building Positive Self Esteem in Your CHD Child interrupt.” When you find yourself feeling sorry for your child or thinking of your child as sick and fragile, notice those thoughts and think, “Pattern interrupt!” Then, quickly replace these feelings with something positive about your child so that the vacuum you have created will be not fill with more negativity. Think something like, “Wow! My child made it through open-heart surgery! That shows how strong she is!” or “My son is such a happy child even though he has been through so much. That shows his resilience and courage.” The more you can do this, the more positive your attitude will be about your child — and yes, even about CHD. Talk openly about your child’s CHD. Of course you would eliminate your child’s CHD if you could, but it is here, so you need to accept it. Some parents try to avoid any mention of their child’s condition in an attempt to live a “normal” life. That’s understandable, but what happens when your son or daughter needs a procedure or surgery? They will be caught completely off guard and may feel angry or Go To 78


Mended Little HeartGuide
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