Parents With Kids Who Have Psoriasis: How You Can Help
Having psoriasis on over 90-percent of my body as a child was very awkward, it was hard to explain and difficult to accept. How could I explain a disease that I hardly knew myself? From what I can remember, at seven years old the first diagnoses wasn't difficult, I wouldn't learn until much later how much my disease would affect me from a day to day bases.
Between the ages of 7-9 my experience with psoriasis did not play a significant role in my life. I don't remember noticing a change in people until the 5th grade. I remember wearing a swim suite in my swim class and my classmates asked what was wrong with my skin. I would lie and say the spots on my body were chicken poc scars, which in most cases would end the conversation in regards to my skin. During that time I also ran with a track league composed of middle and high school students, I was 1 of 3 of the youngest girls there. I recall wearing the standard tank and shorts fit, exposing my skin. This is when I begin to notice and to feel that people would not except my skin. While there were some who were very kind, there were others who made comments or displayed actions that weren't so nice. At times due to my age, and uncertainty of exactly what psoriasis was, it was hard to explain.
Once I hit middle school, I went from the cute little girl who showed off her skin, to the insecure teen who hid my skin at all cost. I refused to play sports, go swimming, wear summer clothes, and anything else that may have required me to expose the sorrows on my skin.
During that time in my life the most person who help me deal with my skin troubles was my grandmother. If it wasn't for her I wouldn't be the strong woman I am today when dealing with psoriasis. Here are some tips I would like to provide to parents to help your child cope with this disease:
Connect Your Child To Patient Websites
The National Psoriasis Foundation has several resources for youth to use when dealing with psoriasis, that speaks in a way a young person can understand. Help ranges from learning about the disease, coping strategies and meeting others with the disease. As a child dealing with psoriasis, I often times felt alone. I know realize many people I knew had psoriasis, but was hiding just like me. It will be most helpful to your child to get them connected with other kids who have psoriasis, that way they can see that they are not alone. The NPF also has downloadable content which includes kid friendly cards that can help a child explain psoriasis to friends. As well as illustrated story books highlight the struggles with psoriasis and how to combat them. These resources will give your child the confidence to not only flaunt their disease but talk about it in a healthy way.
Stay Connected With Your Child's Feelings
At some point your child will be asked questions about their disease. Some people they will encounter will be kind, while others may not be. You should teach your child how to respond both negative and positive encounters by role playing possible situations. You should also be an active part on how your child is dealing with the disease emotionally. When I was a teenager, I never expressed how much psoriasis really affected me, although it wasn't on purpose, no one really asked. I don't think parents realize how much psoriasis can play a role in self-esteem, especially parents who don't have psoriasis themselves. Ask your child how psoriasis makes them feel, how they believe people view their disease, and how they think others respond to them. Take these responses and create constructive ways they can overcome challenges with psoriasis.
Keep them involved
Studies show that kids who are involved in sports and extra curricular activities have a better ability to make friends and improve self-esteem among many other benefits such as exercise. If your child displays that they are uncomfortable with wearing some of the uniforms required to play sports, due to skin showing, don't let them stop playing find ways around it. If they don't want to wear the shorts for track, pair them up with some thin exercise leggings. If they don't like going bare leg for dance, find some flesh tone stockings for them to wear. There are many ways to get around exposing the skin if your child is not yet comfortable. But whatever you do, don't allow them to not participate because they are uncomfortable with their skin.
There are many ways to help your child cope, sometimes it depends on the child and what works best for them. The more comfortable you make you child feel about their disease, the easier it will be for them to accept it and to explain it to those around them.