Have you faced a situation when your young sick child (be it with mild runny nose) becomes increasingly cranky and clingy to you. He or she may also become picky about the food that is offered. And may even regress back to older milestones for instance an infant who had already started on solids could go back to breast milk alone.
Handling our little ones during their sickness can sometimes become unnerving for a parent. This change of behavior in an otherwise happy child often comes up with my daughters as well. The food taste changes, no child (or adult for that matter) likes the stuffy nose or the messy runny nose, the unexplained pains and of course side effects of medicines or inconvenience of nebulizers. With yet-to-master verbal communication as well as inability to self soothe by looking into the future ‘This is temporary phase, I shall get out of it’ (that is how we regulate our discomfort during pains, isn’t it), the little ones have limited means that they can use, the top one being “overall crankiness”. If we are reduced to the level of a child in terms of the physical and emotional limitations and dependencies that the child has, I am sure that would be our way of handling stressful situation as well!!
As a parent, what probably could help is to keep overall environment upbeat (and healthy you!!). Maybe if you are overwhelmed of staying in the house the whole day with your little sick child, have some other trusted adult as a help, get a breather and re-energize. During meal times, we could keep the routine going, allowing the child to eat as much or little as she or he wishes to. Again to keep the consistency going, we could play out the overall routine similar to normal days with:
• Less demand on perfection (like if no bath, how about a sponge clean)
• Extra skin touch and verbal soothing (yes you are in pain dear, I am right there with you, soon you would be a strong child again)
• And loads of face to face interactions. Mother’s voice and face for a young child is his or her favorite thing.
And keep telling yourself-This definitely shall pass and the silver lining here is- It would further strengthen my child’s connect and trust in me.