Discovering their world
Children just entering school are learning and mastering the key developmental tasks, including:
- Basic physical and intellectual skills
- Socially relating with peers and adults
- Appropriate communication skills
- Becoming a valued member of the family unit and of a group (e.g., of the class at school)
You may feel afraid or anxious about cutting ties and letting go, even a little. It’s normal to feel this way – it can be hard to not be with your child for a good part of the day. It’s also a tough time for your child, who may start to react as they adapt to a new and demanding routine, and not being ‘like every other kid’. Tantrums, arguments, impatience – this is typical with any young child, and is even more true with a child learning to deal with their hemophilia.
As you navigate new issues with your young child and school don’t hesitate to reach out to your HTC team if you have any concerns. They have a wealth of experience in this area and are there to help parents and families through this new stage. It’s also important to work closely with schools and anyone else who may care for your child away from home, to ensure they know how they can create a safe space, and what to do in the event of a bleed.
Helping children learn to accept treatment
At this age, younger children can start learning how to "hide" a bleed in order to avoid treatment. This may be because they’re afraid of needles or worry that an infusion will mean having to miss a favourite activity.
While the child’s fears and concerns are valid, it’s important not to teach them the importance of treatment. Infusions will likely be an ongoing event in the child's life, so they must learn to recognize why they’re important and that they’ll be a part of their life. Try to focus on the positives of the infusion: that it is meant to help the bleed get better and help get them back to doing fun stuff. Talk about the hospital and infusion centre as “safe places,” so that your child doesn’t associate them with feelings of fear. And if you’re not already performing infusions at home, talk to your nurse coordinator about getting the proper training. Home infusions can be less stressful and disruptive to both your child and your family.
TIP: Make your child the “captain” of their hemophilia care team. This can make them feel proud and important, and helps set the stage for them taking on more responsibility as they grow.
These early school years are when kids start wanting to join extracurricular activities such as Beavers, swimming classes, music lessons, and sports teams. These activities are very important for a child's social and emotional development. Generally, as long as you check out what’s involved in the activity or club—and share correct, comprehensive information about your child's condition and any limitations with program leaders—your child should be allowed to join. While you don’t want to limit your child, precautions still need to be top of mind – for both you and the person responsible for your child during an activity.
Once again, your HTC can help you with guidelines about which activities are safe and which are risky, and can even talk to program supervisors for you. And for medical advice, always contact your doctor, nurse coordinator, or other HTC staff member.
See FAQs about hemophilia and younger schoolchildren
Hemophilia - What School Personnel Should Know
Playing it Safe: Bleeding Disorders, Sports & Exercise