The management of acute minor illnesses constitutes a major portion of a physician's work. The impact of such illness on the child's development and the physician's positive or negative influence on the child's and the parents' emotional adjustment are considered here. Very few data are available in the literature. Suggestions for management and research are presented.
Diagnosis and therapy of acute minor illness are far from uniform or agreed upon. Accurate diagnosis and reasonable treatment are the pediatrician's first responsibility. Over-, under-, and misdiagnosing and treating are to be avoided. Secondly, he should nurture the sick child by reducing stress and by promoting his adjustment to the illness situation. The child's emotional health suffers from the pediatrician's neglect, over-involvement with or mismanagement of his feelings during illness. Thirdly, the pediatrician should support the parents by helping them to deal with the specific illness and by promoting their capacity to cope with illness in general. If, instead, the pediatrician is overly dominant or submissive, neglectful or punitive in handling the parents' needs, they may become frightened, dependent, demanding, confused, or angry. Their feelings of incompetence in handling illnesses affect their general child-rearing abilities.