8 Tips For Supporting Your Child With Psoriasis
I don't have any children yet, but The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance states - if one parent has psoriasis there is a 15% chance psoriasis will be passed on to their child through genetics.1 This number increases significantly if both parents have the disease. With that being said I have thought deeply about the support I would give to my kids if they were diagnosed with psoriasis. Check out 8 things I will do for my future child if they have this condition.
#1 The elevator speech
Help your child create an "elevator speech" on their psoriasis to help explain the condition to others. I was diagnosed with psoriasis at 7 years old. As a child who had barely made her way into the world, it was very awkward trying to explain to people what was on my skin when I, myself couldn't full comprehend it. If I have kids with psoriasis I will talk to them about how to respond to friends, family, and strangers about their condition.
#2 Talk with your child's teachers
I will definitely contact his/her teachers and notify them about my child's psoriasis. It wasn't on purpose, but I don't remember my guardians contacting my teachers to tell them about my condition. As a child who had psoriasis this was an imperative action that was missed. There were times I didn't want to change out of my clothes in gym class, was withdrawn or irritable due to my skin and teachers just thought I was being a difficult student as they were unaware of my disease. Contacting my child's teacher will help them combat any stigma or bullying that may occur.
#3 Talk about feelings
I will discuss self-esteem and self image. Growing up I battled a lot of self-image issues that I remained silent on. My grandmother would always encourage me and tell me I was beautiful but she never knew how I truly felt about myself. At that time I felt very ugly and unattractive due to my skin but I didn't share that with my family. I was consistently comparing myself to those around with me, I suffered from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks all in silence. I will talk to my kids about these feelings and how to manage.
#4 Encourage stepping outside their comfort zone
I will push them past their comfort level. There is a thin line between pushing too hard and not pushing hard enough when you have a child with psoriasis. I stopped myself from doing a lot of activities such as swimming, joining the swim team, and playing basketball because I didn't want people to see my skin. At times I wished I had that extra push to do the things I was afraid to do. I will challenge my kids to do things they may be uncomfortable with in order to push them to their fullest potential. As I previously stated I will be sure to equip them to handle questions and uncomfortable situations.
#5 Practice challenging scenarios
I will act out challenging scenarios with my child to help prepare them for real life situations they may encounter out in the world. Hopefully this will help them feel more confident in standing up for themselves when, and if, anyone confronts them about their condition.
#6 Look at pictures
I will show my child pictures of beautiful things with spots. I will show them that although they may be different, they are still beautiful. I will show them the spots on butterflies and cheetahs as examples. I will give them something beautiful to compare themselves to, which will hopefully increase their confidence.
#7 Provide examples of public figures
I will show them celebrities who have psoriasis so they can realize that they can do anything they want to do, and that there are influential people in the world who are like them. I know movie stars, rappers, tv host, models, swimmers, who have psoriasis. I want my kids to know that although they may have this disease they can STILL do whatever their heart desires.
#8 Get involved
I will get them involved with the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF). The NPF has a great Youth Ambassador Program for kids who have psoriasis. Through this program kids have the chance to meet others with the disease, learn coping strategies, learn how to gain confidence, and how to be advocates.
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