Dr. Magryta: A positive attitude toward disease
What is the one gift that you can give your child that will stay with them forever and aid them in healing any illness as they age?
A positive attitude toward disease.
It has been shown over and over again that the placebo affect exists. The placebo effect as defined: “A beneficial effect, produced by a placebo drug or treatment, that cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment.”
In other words, if we believe that we will heal even without a therapeutic drug, we will more often than not. This also happens in the opposite direction, with the nocebo effect.
The human mind is exceedingly powerful. When a child is ill, our first response to them should be: “We will work together to help you heal quickly.” I tell my patients all the time that I do NOT fix them. I am their coach in the process of self healing.
Just like an athlete or a scholar would not achieve greatness without a teacher or coach, thus the same is with healing. The patient must do the work and we just guide the takeoff.
Drugs, like antibiotics, just help to stop the bacteria from replicating itself, or killing some of them which then allows the immune system to finish off the job.
In so many ways, our positive attitude as parents is contagious to a child. When we are pleased, they are glowing, and visa versa. We need to advocate for the child to feel themselves empowered to cure whatever ails them.
When they are down, we hug and hold them and then let them stand up. We use words like “You are sick right now, but what a good fighter you are to beat these viruses down each time!”
As a parent try not to hover over your child as they spread their wings in all ways. When it comes to illness, children instinctively know when they are mending. This is the reason why I chose pediatrics over internal medicine. As a medical student, I watched as sick kids were running around the unit the moment they turned the corner on a virus or bacteria.
Adults, not so much. I saw patients more inclined to wait for the doctor to tell them that they are well.
Years of mental baggage can change the adult perspective to needy, less self-sufficient and less self-empowered.
Tell your child that they are intrinsically strong and their body wants to be healthy. It will fight to be well. They are ALL strong fighters!
Dr. Magryta is a physician at Salisbury Pediatric Associates. Contact him at email@example.com