Examples of positive emotional health include:
- Getting along with others
- Participating in enjoyable activities
- Doing well in school, at play, and in taking medications
- Being happy most of the time
- Being able to ask for what you need and to say how you feel
- Handling daily frustrations appropriately
- Being able to be comforted when upset
Developing Positive Emotional Health in Your Child
Adults can do a lot to help develop good mental health in a child with a chronic illness:
Provide routine, predictable times to talk or "check in" with your child
Help your child to know that unhappy feelings are acceptable and normal
Show that you understand your child or teen's feelings by saying things like: "Dealing with your illness is tough" or "Taking medications every day is very hard, and something your friends don't even have to think about."
Provide ways to help your child get rid of bad feelings, and reward him or her when he or she does. Some examples are using puppet play to act out feelings or making an "anger corner" in the home where younger children can rip up newspaper, hit pillows, or stomp and yell, "I'm mad at my illness." Older children and teens may want to write in a journal, draw, exercise, hit a punching bag, or learn relaxation techniques to release their feelings. Creative arts also can provide a helpful outlet to children with a chronic illness. (Learn about art therapy.)
Reward your child routinely for taking prescribed medications. Remind him or her that when they take prescribed medications and stay well, fun activities can follow such as bike rides, playing with a friend, or going to that bowling party or movie.
Make sure that other adults who care for your child or teen know about your child's illness and the medical plans that are in place. These can include schoolteachers, religious leaders, coaches, or extended family. Work together to encourage, support, and reward the good choices your child makes. Examples include: when children with allergies avoid things to which they are allergic, or when kids with asthma rest during physical activities when they are feeling "tight."