As a psychology fellow who regularly works with craniofacial patients, Celia Heppner, Psy.D., understands your child’s struggles, and your challenges as a parent trying to do the right thing. Here, our expert shares some of her best advice.
1. PREPARE A STORY. Their peers frequently ask children with facial abnormalities about their appearance. Help your child come up with an age-appropriate response.
2. BE CONSISTENT. Keep the same rules and routines during hospitalizations and recoveries as you normally would. Young children are especially sensitive to change.
3. INSTILL SELF-CONFIDENCE. In addition to regularly complimenting the child and expressing your affection, get the youngster involved in an activity in which he or she can learn new skills and experience success. Sports, the creative arts and music are a few good options.
4. PREPARE FOR ADULTHOOD. Your child will eventually be on his or her own. Get input from older people with craniofacial conditions on how the child will need to adjust, then help your maturing youngster take the appropriate preparatory steps.
5. BE WATCHFUL.Withdrawal, irritability, sadness and low self-esteem are common issues for children with facial abnormalities. Seek assistance from a counselor or therapist if your child shows these symptoms so you can all work through them together.
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