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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

Helping a Child Cope With Their Severe Illness

Being seriously ill as an adult arouses terrors. These are infinitely worse for a child since their understanding lacks mature insight. They perceive their all-powerful parents as deliberately bringing them to doctors who cause them discomfort and pain. Which are unavoidable for those suffering from cancer or convulsive disorders even when the prognosis is favorable. The child feels friendless, having none who can understand except for their stuffed animal friend who mutely observes.
Young children consider stuffed animals as friends who are no different from living friends with whom adults share their secrets. Children talk to them, play with them, and sometimes hurt them which, like good parents, they lovingly forgive.
Speaking to these children of their medical situation, by using their stuffed animal friend as intermediary, can be supportive by relieving their trauma and isolation and giving hope.

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