Tips to Help Kids Cope with the Emotional Challenges of Eczema

Jennifer Moyer Darr, LCSW from the National Jewish Health for Kids Behavioral Health team offers tips for parents when a child experiences increased anger, irritability, social isolation, loss of interest in favorite activities, and changes to eating or sleeping routines.



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Eczema symptoms can affect a child’s health in a lot of ways.

Some of the signs you might see in a who is child struggling emotionally, could be increased irritability, loss of interest in things that they used to enjoy, more social isolation, changes to eating or sleeping routines, increased anger.

We also see increases in depression and anxiety although that typically occurs more in the moderate to severe range of eczema.

Some of the coping strategies families can use with their children to help manage eczema include things like cognitive reframing, learning ways to restate our negative self talk or to think differently about our situation or our illness.

Also, helping them prioritize good skin care.

Unfortunately, with eczema, it’s a matter of acknowledging and accepting that it’s part of their daily routine and learning how to stay on top of that.

Parents should consider counseling pretty early on especially with a new diagnosis or changes to treatment plans.

We often don’t think about counseling until there is a big problem, but often it’s more effective if it’s in the early stages of change.

So helping families identify the impact the eczema has on the household or the family, not just the child who is experiencing it.

There are things that parents should never say or do to a child with eczema and probably the top one is one that we’ve all probably done and it’s the “stop scratching.”

It doesn’t help.

It frustrates the child and telling a child who is extremely itchy not to scratch is pretty futile.

We still don’t want them to scratch, but often telling them what they can do, such as pad or put a cold washcloth on or distraction is more effective than telling them what they can’t do.

One tip for parents to help their children is to not let eczema be the defining thing of their child or family, making sure that as a family your are doing things together, that you are enjoying each other, that you engage in activities you love and eczema is just one more thing you have to address in the day to day functioning.  

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