Responsibility: Parents want their children to take more of it; kids don't want it.
Parenting a child with health issues can be a roller coaster of emotions. How do we motivate our children to make wise
choices and encourage them to grow up to be optimistic, self-reliant adults who are not identified with their health
condition and do not use it to manipulate others or to excuse them from other responsibilities?
Parenting Children with Health Issues, written by Dr. Foster Cline and Lisa Greene, is an invaluable resource based on
Love and Logic's parenting tools. Cline is a child psychiatrist and experienced parent of a child with diabetes. Greene
is a parent educator and has two children living with cystic fibrosis. The following teachings are drawn from their own
How can you help your children take responsibility for their health-care requirements?
Avoid power struggles by using choices and questions. Kids need to feel like they have some control over
their bodies just like adults do. Share control in all areas of life, including homework, chores and medical
Teach your children early on about their medical condition in a matter-of-fact way, and be honest about the
consequences of noncompliance. Children pick up on our clues. If parents don't show fear and angst, then the child
won't become fearful. However, children need to know the consequences - good and bad - regarding what to expect if
they skip their treatments or medications.
Lovingly lay the responsibility for compliance on the child as early as possible in small, age-appropriate
increments. When we use choices and allow our children to make their own decisions early on, they naturally will
grow in responsibility.
Be sad when your child makes bad choices, not mad. Kids are human and make mistakes. Responding with empathy, not anger, is more likely to ensure the child learns from the mistake.
Allow your child to experience the consequences of a mistake when the price tag is small. Allow your children
to experience the natural consequences of their nonlife- or limb-threatening choice instead of rescuing them.
Encouragement is more effective than praise. Say things like I'll bet you're really proud of yourself" to
give the child the glory when good decisions are made.
Lastly, don't forget to model the importance of self-care. When we take good care of ourselves, our children
are more likely to take good care of themselves, too.
take for themselves, the less we have to do for them.
Interested in more information? Join us for a workshop with the authors of Parenting Children with Health Issues on
Saturday at Fort Lewis College. The cost for the workshop is $25, and a light breakfast and lunch is included.
Call Liza Tregillus at 749-9607 at San Juan Basin Health to register or for more information. On the Internet, visit
Dr. Jennifer Heinicke
is a hospitalist at Mercy Regional Medical Center.