Comfort objects

Many parents worry when, after diagnosis, children regress to using a special comfort object. Many young children ask to return to using a bottle, or cling to a favorite toy or blanket. It is reasonable to allow your child to use whatever he can to find comfort against the terrible realities of treatment. The behaviors usually stop either when the child starts feeling better or when treatment ends.

My daughter was a hair twirler. Whenever she was nervous, she would twirl a bit of her hair around her finger As her hair fell out, she kept grabbing at her head to find a wisp to curl. I told her that she could twirl mine until hers grew back. She spent a lot of time next to me or in my lap with her hand in my hair It was annoying for me sometimes, but it had a great calming effect on her. When hers grew back, I would gently remind her that she had her own hair to twirl. She also went back to a bottle although we did limit the bottle use to home or hospital. Both behaviors, hair twirling and drinking from a bottle, disappeared within six months of the end of treatment, when she was 6 years old.

My son was a blanket baby. I remember getting so much advice about how to take the blanket away from him, when actually I was not at all concerned. He eventually cuddled it less and less, and it finally was packed into my memory box—until he was diagnosed with leukemia. He was 15, and he actually asked me to bring it to the hospital. In tears, I dragged that pitiful looking, raggedy blanket to the hospital.

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