Many times, a child's or parent's thoughts or beliefs play a large role in shaping the way they react to a medically traumatic event. For example, believing "no one can understand what I'm feeling" may lead to avoiding potential social supports, on the other hand, believing "laughter will help get us through this" may help families use humor as a coping mechanism when needed. Beliefs which negatively affect coping can also impact health (e.g. by affecting adherence to medical treatment).
Identifying, understanding, and re-framing these beliefs will help children and families cope better with their injury or illness. As providers, we can listen to distressing thoughts and beliefs so that families know they have been heard and understood, and then help children and families identify their adaptive thoughts and beliefs about their ability to cope, their faith, or their future.
The Center for Pediatric Traumatic Stress has adapted several handouts to aid children and families in identifying and understanding their beliefs, re-framing their beliefs as well as other intervention resources for families needing additional assistance in coping with their hospital stay.