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How to Help Sick Kids Feel Normal

If your child has been sick for an extended period of time, life tends to lose its sparkle for them. After going through a medical issue with my son, I have a few tips for how to make sick kids feel normal again. 

This summer has been full of ups and downs. And, frankly, the downs have dominated the ups. From unexpected career upheavals to some scary medical news, our family has been going through it. And things have been especially tough on my son. Thanks to a rare condition, he’s been through more than his fair share of pain, doctor visits and tests lately.

And soon he’ll have a procedure that will, hopefully, make him feel like himself again. As one could expect, the goofy grins that used to brighten our day every time he flashed one at us have been in short supply. I get it. I’ve experienced chronic pain myself. We try to ignore it. We go on business as usual, but the sparkle we once had has dimmed. 

little boy standing in front of bird mural

I think that’s been the hardest part for him. My normally beyond energetic little guy can’t do the things he loves. He can’t golf, swim or tool around on his scooter without thinking about the pain he’s going to be in if he does. Now that hasn’t stopped him. He’s tougher than tough and has tried to have the kind of summer he lives for, but there’s always a slight grimace on his face. And, sometimes, no matter how brave he tries to be, the pain overtakes him and he collapses into my arms in a fit of sobs. That, my friends, has been the hardest part of this whole ordeal for me. Seeing my baby struggle to just be a kid has been heartbreaking. 

How to Help Sick Kids Feel Like Themselves Again

Don’t get me wrong. I’m beyond grateful that we aren’t dealing with something that can’t be fixed. But that doesn’t mean it’s not remarkably hard to sit back and wait. Like all parents of sick kids, I wish I could absorb all his pain into my own body. The fact of the matter is, I can’t. I have to wait until it is time to check my baby into the hospital, so I can check him out minus the tumor that has been stealing his happiness. Nobody likes a joy thief. And this thief can consider itself persona non grata.

Until my darling boy is in fighting form again I will do anything to make him smile. And that’s why I reached out to my village recently. I have felt downright depleted and devoid of creativity as of late, so I asked my friends and family for ideas to help cheer up my kiddo. Trust in your village. They will come through. My people sent so many wonderful ideas and surprises. I was overcome by their kindness and support.

It felt like my family was marooned on an island, but we were’t. We aren’t. It was good to be reminded of that. And that’s just the kind of support your child needs. He needs to feel like he’s not in this alone. So, the best thing you can do for him is simply be there for him. Do as many of his favorite things that you can. Think about what made him smile before he got sick. 

little girl standing on little tykes play tower

boy smiling while playing with little tykes tower

little girl on slide

boy playing with the little tykes tumblin tower

girl playing with little tykes tumblin tower

How to Cheer Up a Sick Kid

1. Make a treasure chest filled with his best-loved things. When he’s having a particularly tough time, send him to the chest to fish out a surprise! Art supplies are always a hit in our house.

2. Watch his favorite movies. You know that one movie that always makes him belly laugh? Put that one on repeat!

3. Plan a play date. If it’s medically safe, invite his bestie over. Children are so inherently empathetic. 

4. Create a portable library. Recovery is filled with a LOT of downtime. Books have such a unique ability to transport a kid away from his current situation.

5. Give them a toy that doesn’t remind them that they’re sick. We gave my daughter the Little Tikes Fun Zone Tumblin’ Tower Climber for her birthday and it’s given both kids countless hours of fun! It has so many cool features that can be used with and without water. From buckets that can drop a gaggle of balls down, to a water cannon and even a conveyor that transports the balls or water, this toy is a winner!  It’s like having two activity centers in one because you can use it inside OR outside. Since everything is contained in a relatively small amount of space, my son can play with his sister without moving around too much which cuts down on his pain. Smiles all around!

boy drawing a yeti with chalk

kids holding hands at a farm

How to Cope with Having a Sick Child

Hopefully a few of these cheer ’em up activities will bring some laughter back to your home. There is all to often nothing that you can do to completely eradicate the pain a sick child goes through, but you can ease it. And if you know a parent who’s going through something similar with their child, the best thing you can do is simply be there for them too. Offer to help with their other children. Drop off a meal. Be a shoulder they can lean on. Sometimes they simply need to vent.

I know I sure did. Before I knew exactly what we were dealing with, I had a full on, I could barely breathe, sob fest and my family just let me cry. That’s what I needed. And, sometimes, that’s what your kid needs too. I will continue to try my best to cheer my son up, but if he just needs to let it out, I’ll be there for that too. Because as hard as this has been, there are parents going through far worse. 

I’ll never forget sitting at a diner before one his tests. THE test. It was the test that would tell us if our whole world would be turned upside down. I watched my son and husband as they munched away on their burgers. I couldn’t bring myself to touch my own plate. All I could think about was that this might be the last meal that we shared BEFORE everything changed. So, I simply watched them and prayed. I prayed harder than I ever have in my entire life. I will never forget that lunch for as long as I live.

mother and children in front of blue and green mural

What my child has is rare. It’s painful. It’s inconvenient. It just plain sucks. But it’s not going to take him from us. All over the world there are parents who don’t have that knowledge to comfort them at night. They don’t know if their kids will get better. So, I will try to honor them by not taking a moment for granted. I will try to remember that as hard as today seems, it could be so much harder. I will be eternally grateful for my role as Mom and I will leave pity at the door. Because my kid just wants to feel like he did pre tumor. He just wants to be HIM. And it’s our job as parents to help sick kids feel normal right? Well, their normal. Normal is such a relative term after all.

This is not a sponsored post. A sample was provided.

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