Your Child & A Scar – How to Help Address Differences in Appearance


Recently, I had a mom contact me with a specific scenario in which she needed help for her daughter. Her elementary aged child had recently had surgery and was refusing to go out in public due to her new, very visible, scar.

The young girl was worried how people would react to her new appearance with the scar.

The mom asked if I had any advice to give to help them through it. Although this was a specific request, I feel that the advice I gave could be applicable for many different situations that parents run into with their children. Here are the steps that I encouraged the mom to take:

  • First, affirm her emotions and fears surrounding the situation. I certainly understand why the young girl would be worried about her new scar and how others might react to it. Children (and adults) tend to stare when they see anything out of the “norm”, especially scars. It would be so difficult to feel as if everyone was staring at you… especially because that might be true. Let your child know that you understand why she would be feeling this way.
  • Secondly, discuss the surgery with your child (at an age appropriate level) and help her put a description of the surgery into her own words. Most often, children (and adults) are staring because they don’t understand. Your child needs to feel confident in being able to quickly summarize (in a kid-friendly way) that she went through surgery. Hopefully, her confidence will help answer any question that might come her way and then she can move on from the topic. You can even teach her what a scar actually is so that she can explain that to all of her friends. They might think it’s cool!
  • Next, demonstrate vulnerability for your child and discuss a time in which you felt self-conscious. This could even be a memory from around your child’s current age. Talk with your child about how you felt, what your fears were, and how you were able to overcome your fears and face the situation. The emphasis there should be in overcoming your fear.
  • Lastly, we want to build confidence in our children no matter what their physical appearance may be.

Check out a previous post for more information and tips on building confidence in children!

*Specific information has been changed to protect the client’s identity.

Written By: Amanda Dempsey, LAMFT


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