Q: Our daughter has heart and lung issues. Now 18 1/2 months, she’s doing great, is very active, and tries to do everything her 5-yearold sister does. She will be limited as she gets older and will not be able to do cheerleading and contact sports like her sister. How do I explain that and still make her feel like she can do fun things? — Jessica East-Nix
A: Explain it the way you would explain any difference between two siblings. Your explanation will change over time based on the child’s developmental stage and what she can comprehend. Finding things that are special and unique for this child to participate in will be important.
The two girls both have different strengths and weaknesses, but stress that neither is better than the other: “Sister is good at cheerleading; you’re good at X.” Also help her cultivate interests in things that won’t tax her physical limitations. Not every child has to be an athlete. Maybe she will enjoy art, music, reading, or cooking. If this becomes a significant problem over time, consider working with a pediatric psychologist.
– Alison Wilkinson-Smith, Ph.D., a Children’s pediatric neuropsychologist
Want your pediatric health question answered by one of our experts? Like our Facebook page and post your question there. You may see the answer in an upcoming issue of the magazine, Children’s Med Dallas.