Help your sick kid feel better using sensory clues

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By Priscilla Dunstan, McClatchy-Tribune
Posted Feb. 04, 2013, at 2:47 p.m.

The flu season is in full force, along with the common cold. Even if your child hasn’t caught a bug, it’s best to be prepared.

Understanding how your child will behave when he or she feels unwell, based on the child’s dominant sense, will allow you to help him or her feel more comfortable and boost your own tolerance. It’s not easy having a sick child at home.

Never hesitate to visit the doctor if you feel unsure, or if your child is particularly ill.

When tactile children feel unwell, they can become physically very needy, and it will not be enough to sit them on the couch to watch TV or read a book. They will expect to sit on you and be continuously cuddled until better. As they improve, they will insist upon your helping them to do things, as they hate being immobile. This frustration can lead to a few half-hearted physical tantrums and various spills as they physically complain about how they are feeling. They will want everything to be within reach, so set up a table beside them with various needed items, and expect a bit of mess.

Don’t make a fuss — it will be over soon enough.

Auditory children are very whiny when sick. They like verbal communication — the sound of humming helps to unblock their ears and complaining just makes them feel better. The auditory child’s ears are sensitive, so the plugged ears, head congestion or ear pressure from a cold will make her feel disoriented and out of sorts. You may also find that children will resist some chewy or crunchy foods, as eating them may cause an unpleasant sensation in their ear canals.

Auditory children will become extra sensitive to noise, so try to be patient, minimize noise, and do everything you can to assist in decongestion, such as hot showers, gentle nose blowing and appropriate medication recommended by your doctor.

Visual children will become fussy about very minute things when they are feeling unwell. The curtains are not in the middle; the photo isn’t hanging straight; the desk light is too bright. This is simply because placing things in order makes them feel better, so in their effort to soldier on they can become finicky. If your visual child suddenly stops caring about visual appearance — her hair is messy, he doesn’t want to wear his favorite T-shirt — he or she really must be feeling unwell. Likewise, when they start to get worried about their red nose, you can be confident they are on the mend.

The great thing about visual children is they are easily entertained once quarantined in their beds or on the sofa. Reading, TV, and simply watching what’s happening will easily distract them.

“Taste and smell” children can become easily hurt if they don’t receive the attention they want, and they can hold a grudge. This can be somewhat unrealistic, as they will expect the same amount of attention they would give you if you were sick, which is an awful lot. They will be clingy and need a huge amount of attention. Nothing will make them comfortable. Since their main information senses — taste and/or smell — are dulled, everything will feel off. Food will taste funny, things will smell wrong and so their usual comforts are gone.

There isn’t much you can do, other than wait and assure them they will get better very soon. In the meantime, give them lots of cuddles, chicken soup and perhaps arrange a visit from an old friend or family member.

Priscilla Dunstan, creator of the Dunstan Baby Language, is a child and parenting behavior expert and consultant and the author of “Child Sense.” Learn more about Dunstan and her parenting discoveries at www.childsense.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/02/04/health/help-your-sick-kid-feel-better-using-sensory-clues/ printed on September 22, 2014