How to support your child with psoriasis
17/02/2019 - By Dr. Catherine O'Leary
A significant proportion of people with psoriasis first develop it in childhood. As a parent it’s incredibly hard to watch your child struggle and you can be left feeling quite helpless. Here are my top tips for supporting your child:
Your instinct will be to try and fix things. But you can’t. Listening is the most important thing you can do. Your child needs you to hear how tough things are. Reflect back what you heard so they know you understood: “It sounds like things were pretty tough today”. If you don’t know what I mean then watch this short animation about empathy.
People will ask questions, point, stare, grimace. Unless you plan to keep your child at home or covered up for the rest of their lives then get them prepared to deal with unwanted attention. Teach them the Explain-Reassure-Distract method and practice, practice, practice.
HELP THEM GET CONTROL
Encourage them to speak in clinic appointments and take responsibility for their own treatments. Try not to nag and remember to give lots of praise if they do their treatments by themselves. For younger children consider using a reward chart.
BUILD THEIR CONFIDENCE
Tell them they’re wonderful and all the reasons why. Are they funny, kind, clever or creative? Your child is much more than skin so remind them of that.
DON’T FORCE THEM TO UNCOVER
Don’t make them show their skin if they don’t feel ready. It might not look awful to you but it takes a lot of courage to show skin covered in psoriasis to the world. If they’re not ready it will just be horrible. So what if they want to wear trousers instead of shorts? Join them!
Watch movies with inspiring characters. Read books where the main character has imperfections or even psoriasis.
GET SUPPORT FOR YOURSELF
There’s nothing more painful than seeing your child suffer and having no control. Seek support for yourself; try mindfulness, reach out to friends or join a forum.