What happens to children with a severe congenital heart defect at the age of 4 to 6 years?

Heart children also want to play with friends, argue with friends, experience limits, be brave, and be careful.

Some children who have undergone heart surgery can have less experience because of their long hospital stays. This makes them more cautious when dealing with other children. As parents, you want your child to grow up as normally as possible. At the same time, you care about your child's well-being and want to protect them.This is always a challenge.

So going to kindergarten is a big step, which most heart children manage very well. But it is also an encounter with healthy children and with the demands and challenges of the wider world.

Heart children show normal progress in most areas of development and develop very well. However, some children may experience problems, and these are discussed below.


Social behaviour

Sometimes, heart children are shy or anxious when they meet other children. As a rule, they learn quickly, and they quickly find their place in their peer group. As parents, you can support your child by being open and encouraging. It can be very important to inform the kindergarten teacher and other parents about your child's heart disease. This will usually reduce anxiety, and your child will benefit. Both our experience and studies have shown that some children may have behavioural problems after entering kindergarten. These problems can take very different forms. They may concern integration into the group and playing with the other children, or the child may be restless and easily distracted. If such a problem persists, it is worth arranging a developmental-pediatric or child-psychological assessment.


Playing, drawing

Your child plays much like healthy children. Drawing can be a little less controlled. Other fine motor tasks, such as in handicrafts, can also be more difficult for the heart child. If you or the teacher at the kindergarten think that your child is disadvantaged by this and suffers from it, then consulting a specialist can be helpful. Discuss this with your pediatrician.



A few heart children need a little longer to master the language well. For example, they may have difficulty expressing themselves well and clearly reporting events. Mostly, they do not need therapy. Again, if you feel that the child's communication is impaired or that they suffer from this, consulting a specialist may be useful. Discuss this with your pediatrician. 



There are no differences from healthy children.


Getting out of diapers

There are no differences from healthy children.


Bea Latal (2016): Neurodevelopmental outcomes of the child with congenital heart disease. Clinics in Perinatology, 43:173–185