Teach ‘em young: Nothing feels better than taking control of your health.
No one likes to feel out of control—kids are no exception. Teaching kids about their own triggers when they’ve been diagnosed with psoriasis at a young age can empower them to be active members in their psoriasis treatment.
Kids thrive on feeling like an adult (if only they knew to enjoy their childhood for as long as they can). You can use this truth to your advantage. The more they feel like they are steering the ship, the more motivated they may feel to commit to their treatment.
Why Treatment Can Be Challenging For Some Adolescents
Treating psoriasis requires daily commitments, which can be taxing, daunting, or downright annoying. Kids may be frustrated or embarrassed by having to do things that are “different” than their peers. Plus, they may skip or forget parts of their treatment. Adolescents tend to think more about the present, so they may have a harder time following habits that lead to long-term treatment success. Whether they’re rebelling or simply overwhelmed, neglecting their needs may lead to flares, which will only fuel their frustration.
Remind your kids that nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors. They may feel “different” for having to manage a chronic illness, but their friends may be dealing with other issues (or even psoriasis themselves!). The more they find out that they are not alone, the better they will feel about taking charge of their treatment.
How Parents Can Oversee Treatment Without Overstepping
As with anything, knowledge is power. Let your kids feel like they are the expert of their own body and symptoms, have a say in their treatment, and how they want to take action—instead of having them wait for you to give commands or initiate routines. For example:
- Encourage them to pick out a journal (a notebook or online app) that they can use to track symptoms, progress, and potential triggers.
- Let them fill out a calendar that hangs in a common space (or create a shared Google calendar) where they can track symptoms and potential triggers. This way, it’s easy for both of you to view without you having to ask about it.
- Keep medications in a public place so it’s easy to see whether they’re remembering to take medications regularly without having to nag or create more friction. This will also give a visual cue to your child as they set their medication habits.
More Hacks to Help Kids and Teens Own Their Psoriasis Treatment
- Young children can apply their own moisturizer, but you might need to prompt the task. Make it part of a daily routine (or even make it a party) so they know when to expect “moisturizer time.” Play some music, set the scene of a spa, and have fun while you take care of yourselves.
- Ask kids to keep an eye out for new flares and let you know as soon as they see them. They can even text you a picture without having to make a big deal about it. This gets them in the habit of monitoring their own condition.
- Set alarms or reminders on phones for tweens and teens. That way, the prompt comes from a device they’re already glued to and they can take ownership. Tweens and teens should be able to moisturize and take medications without you having to prompt them.
- Make it a team effort. Because children and teens are just as prone to forgetting things, and often don’t think about long-term consequences of an action, find ways to “check on” or encourage your child without having to micromanage them, especially as they get older. Remind them that you’re on their side, and you’re proud of them for handling hard things.
- Psoriasis: Tips for Managing. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Dermatology Association, 2021. (Accessed on May 18, 2021)
- Psoriasis in children: Management of chronic plaque psoriasis. Waltham, MA: UpToDate, 2021. (Accessed on May 18, 2021)
- Psoriasis. Teens Health from Nemours, 2020. (Accessed on May 18, 2021)
- Psoriasis. Kids Health from Nemours, 2020. (Accessed on May 18, 2021)
- Living with a Chronic Illness or Disability. Itasca, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 2015. (Accessed on May 18, 2021)