Open Letter to Parents with Kids Who Have Psoriasis
Dear Mom, Dad, or Guardian,
There is something you should know about a child with psoriasis. They are facing a battle that you are most likely unaware of... They are going through things emotionally and mentally that they are not sharing with you because they don't want to be a burden or they feel as though they can get through it alone. Your son or daughter may not even know HOW to come to you with their fears. Your child is most likely being teased at school because it's something we all dealt with growing up. Take a moment and reflect on how you felt back then as a child. Sometimes those moments were overbearing and extremely hard to deal with. Now, think about your child, who is not only a kid, but a child with psoriasis. Kids with chronic illnesses have it much harder and are more likely to be bullied.
I am writing you as a person who has psoriasis who was once a child with the disease. It was hard to muster up the words to explain my condition, so I lied and said it was another disease. When people came to me with rude comments of misconceptions and stigma I didn't know how to defend myself, I wasn't prepared. Sometimes when your kid says they don't feel like doing something or an activity is "just not their thing" it's a lie. They really want to do it, but don't want to expose their skin or be embarrassed. I always wanted to model and play sports but I never did because I didn't want to risk showing my spots and having to explain.
When your child walks in the door you probably ask "How was your day?" Depending on how close you are with your child they may give you a few details or simply say "good." I urge you to change your form of questioning. Don't just ask about their day. Ask about their inner self, their soul, their thoughts, their fears.
Ask your child:
Has anyone said anything about their skin lately?
How do they view their disease?
How do they think other's view them?
What do they say when others approach them about their disease or say something rude?
Don't just ask questions but roleplay with your child. Help them to have a game plan on bullying and rude comments. Give them a 30-second "elevator speech" on how to explain their disease. I know you love your child, but you can't be there 24/7, therefore you have to prepare them the best you can for when they are on their own.
Last but not least, be sure to push your child to surpass their limits, but be gentle and patient. I know at times it can be difficult to determine when you are pushing too hard or not enough. Find ways for your child to do things comfortably. If they want to model, encourage them to do so. Choose outfits that cover their skin if that's what they are comfortable with. If they want to play sports but are scared to do so because of the required gear, talk to the coach find alternative ways or clothes they can wear.
Remember, you are your child's first line of defense when it comes to having them defend and view themselves.
A 20year psoriasis sufferer
Do you like to go pswimming with psoriasis?