1.6 Why is child participation important?

Participation is not only a right of every child, but it also brings with it many positive benefits for children themselves, including to their health and well-being. It can also make the work of the health worker easier:

  • Involving children in their own health care makes children feel more respected. And when children feel that they are respected, listened to and that their views are valued and taken seriously, this helps reduce the vulnerability associated with being ill, in pain and dependent on others.
  • If you listen to children, it will help you understand the child’s condition better, and this will help you treat them more effectively.
  • Being listened to helps relieve anxiety and enables children to cope better with treatment.
  • If children have information about their condition, they are better able to understand and address what is happening to their bodies and why things are happening the way they are.
  • It gives them confidence. If children are involved in the process of treatment, they will not have fears that actions will be taken without their knowledge or understanding.
  • It encourages co-operation. If children lack information, they are likely to be more frightened and therefore less willing or able to co-operate in treatment which, in turn, makes interventions more painful and distressing.
  • It avoids unnecessary distress. When information is withheld, children may worry unnecessarily about what is going to happen to them.
  • Often the imagined risks are far worse than reality. If they have information, children can prepare appropriately for what is happening and receive necessary counselling, comfort and support.
  • Children develop a better understanding of their own health care needs.
  • It encourages them to take more responsibility for their own health because they develop a better sense of the causes and consequences of their actions or inactions.

Article 17: Ensuring that the child has access to age appropriate information

1.7 What are the challenges to participation and how can we address them?