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And I am a child even though I am different from the others!

And I am a child even though I am different from the others!


I would like to get closer to a subject very little approached, especially from the psychological perspective. That of children who have a physical defect, a malformation can, a skin disease, look different than the other children.
Of course we can add the case of those who, although physically are like everyone else, have a different behavior, manifested through language disorders, hyperactivity, tics etc.
The abnormality, malformation, scarring or different behavior may be from birth or may occur during childhood. In all these cases, it is considered a delicate topic to talk about what they have been feeling, how these children are feeling, what their parents are feeling, how it is better to proceed with everyone so as not to increase their suffering.
The most common tendency is to "hide" the child, to keep him in the house, to "protect" him from the malicious remarks of those around him, from prying eyes, from painful questions. Many of them, although with minor anomalies, are not taken to kindergarten or school, do not go to the park, nor to visits, do not know what the circus or the puppet theater is. Parents are comforted by the idea that "this was the way it should be" and, even if from a medical point of view they are trying to improve, they do not do much for the child to develop socially. Ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, for not wanting to suffer, he adopts this behavior to "silence" the malformation or illness of the child. Never talk to him and even discourage him from asking questions like: "why am I so ...?", "Why am I so ...?", "When will I be like the others?" and so on
We try to put ourselves in the place of the parents, to live their suffering, maybe the shock from the moment of the birth of the child or from the one of an accident with such consequences ... Despair, helplessness, guilt - these are just some of the words that come to mind to describe their condition. since then. Maybe rebellion, resignation, abandonment ...
Some of them struggle with power, without stopping for "injustice" to disappear. Surgery, prosthetics, treatments, clinics around the world, money, time, effort - nothing is too much when it comes to their child. Others feel destroyed in the face of such a cruel reality.
Let's try to look at the world through the eyes of the child ... "He doesn't know," some parents say, "It's too small to achieve," others say. However, children understand more than we realize. Sometimes we are surprised how realistic they can be, how objectively they look at their situation. Some of them talk, say about their condition, others draw as they are, as they look. Apart from the malformation or the respective disease, they are built like any child. They like to play, to listen to stories, to be handled, to like to be among the children, to communicate with them. Even if I can't run, I feel the urge to do it, even if I can't speak the words they would say, even if they don't look good, they don't look out for friends.
Perhaps the first help for them would be to not break their trust in life, in themselves, to try to find with them something that suits them as a game, as a way to communicate, as a future job, as a hobby.
Let them express their feelings, even if sometimes we find it painful or pointless. To encourage them to ask, to be curious, as other children, to wish, to dream. No one can see all their dreams come true, all their wishes come true - that doesn't mean they have no right to them!
And parents, grandparents, relatives and friends often need help. Some of them would talk to the child but do not know how to do it, others would shy away from people looking at their child with pity or silly, asking silly questions or giving us unnecessary advice. Others feel guilty for what happened and the guilt overwhelms them. Most believe that silence heals these wounds, that "not to say" is a solution, at least for the moment. It's a way of hiding from themselves the reality, of denying it.
Maybe they didn't think or feel like putting into words, talking about ... it helps them more than keeping silence. Even if the painful and annoying words help us to express what is in our depths, to discover things that we do not know, to find solutions that we had not thought about before, to find out how to help our children.
Anca Munteanu
Psychologist - Child psychology
C.P.A.P.