Being a parent of a child or baby with eczema can be worrying, exhausting and emotionally draining, topped off with the incessant feelings of guilt, frustration and helplessness.
According to research from Oilatum Junior, 15% of mums are frustrated that eczema dictates everything they do.
Sue Atkins, parenting coach and author, has some tips on how parents can cope with their children’s eczema positively.
1. Relax Remember, eczema is not your fault. Try to stay calm and relaxed even at times when you find coping with your child’s eczema challenging. Envisage your child happy and smiling, and think of a time when they are having fun. Your child needs you to be grounded, relaxed and calm – this will in turn help them cope.
2. Focus Think about the great things about your child. Maybe he or she is sporty, helpful, funny, kind, musical, artistic, handy or even simply patient. Every child has special qualities. Do not let your child be defined by a skin condition.
3. Share You are not the only mum or dad in this situation. There are plenty of other parents also having to deal with the uncontrollable itch and scratch cycle, flare-ups and tantrums. Find a support group or online forum where you can share your concerns and fears. Talking things through with a health visitor or doctor is another good outlet.
4. Talk Your child’s school can help. Talk to your child’s teacher and help the child feel supported and nurtured. Many teachers use the PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) lessons in the curriculum to teach other children about eczema which can help alleviate bullying and teasing.
5. Explore Check out what treatments are available. One of the problems with eczema is that there is no one trigger or cure. Many parents explore alternative and complementary medicine as a way to alleviate eczema. Sharing info on an eczema forum is a good way to explore new possible treatement routes.
6. Control It is always easy to keep a child’s eczema under control, but one thing you as a parent can control is your attitude to it. Try not to think of a flare-up as a difficult, stressful and demanding time. Think instead of it as a time to work even harder at remaining calm, relaxed and looking at the bigger picture.
7. Routine The routine of treatment, particularly if you are having to wet-wrap your child, can be tiring and demanding. Instilling a simple routine will generate habits in your child and see you reaping benefits in the long-term. Give your child more responsibility for applying their own treatment as they get older: it will make them feel more grown-up and independent and help boost self-esteem.
8. Celebrate Be happy with even the most minor of successes. Find ways to stay positive and in control. Learn to build overall confidence. Don’t dwell on mistakes or setbacks, learn from them then forget them.
Says Sue Atkins, “It is important to remember that, with the right treatment regime and diet, the eczema will get better and life will improve for you, your child and the whole family. I always encourage parents to remember to focus on that vision before falling asleep at night to keep them motivated, confident and positive so that they wake up more upbeat the next day.”
Find out more about Sue Atkins at the Positive Parents website.
To download a FREE booklet about dealing with childhood eczema click here