7 Tips for Helping Your Child Cope

Every year, about 20,000 children under 10 years old are diagnosed with psoriasis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. If one parent has the disease, there is about a 10% chance that the child will contract it—the chance increases to 50% if both parents have psoriasis.

Although it can be challenging for a child to handle a visible medical condition like psoriasis, take comfort in the fact that with the right guidance, you can help your child cope with the physical and emotional impacts of this disease. Read on for our seven top tips.

  • Educate yourself. It’s important to educate yourself about psoriasis so you can teach your child about it. Read all you can about the disease online and in books. Once you’re ready to discuss it, make sure the conversation is age-appropriate and encourage your child to ask questions.
  • Prepare your child for tough conversations. Teach your child how to respond to questions about the condition. For instance, peers can be told that millions of people have psoriasis and it isn’t contagious. Remind your child that psoriasis doesn't happen as a punishment—that it’s uncertain why some people have it and others don’t.
  • Be empathetic. Everyone reacts differently to psoriasis, so aim to be sympathetic and supportive of your child’s feelings, which may include anger, sadness and hostility. Your child could be embarrassed for not looking the same as peers or frustrated about having to use topical treatments or injections. And remember not to take it personally if your child is occasionally irritable or moody!
  • Encourage your child's style. Help your child find comfortable clothing and a hairstyle that suits them. Kids often want to look just like everyone else and not stand out. So, if you're asked, help your child find shirts and pants that cover affected areas. Or help find lighter-colored clothing so the psoriasis is less visible.
  • Find a support system. Look into local peer support groups so that your child can talk with others dealing with the same issues. Get in touch with the National Psoriasis Foundation or American Academy of Dermatology, which can help you find a support group near you.
  • Keep others informed. Discuss the condition with the teacher and other adults your child interacts with, such as the school nurse. Educate these people about psoriasis and ask them to watch how your child is being treated by peers. If they hear another child teasing or making rude comments, ask them to promote truths about psoriasis.
  • Make school a priority. Ensure that your child’s psoriasis impacts school as little as possible. Schedule doctor appointments or treatment regimens for before or after school—this will help prevent grades from suffering due to missed classes.
Published August 2011

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