Don’t call me brave

Often said to children when they are sad or frightened. But doesn’t help, only makes it seem wrong to have feelings.

Sometimes you need to take a break. And hovering in the doorway doesn’t count.

It can feel like there’s nowhere safe in hospital, that no one understands you. Does being brave mean keeping quiet for the happiness of others?

Instead of calling someone brave, maybe try pointing out that grown ups can feel scared too. Have you explained what the test is for, and why it is needed? Have you apologised for making them upset?

Three strike policy can help an anxious child feel respected and in control.

[Sophie Lyons, BMJ 2018;360:k1299]