The right attitude when caring for a child with atopic dermatitis

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Daily life with a baby or child suffering from atopic dermatitis can often be very different from our ideal image of a family. How do you stop yourself from getting frustrated or feeling down, consumed by guilt? Our experts have some suggestions.

PSYCHOLOGIST ASSOCIATE PROF

Dr. Laura Janackova
Czech Republic

Resist stress

As Dr Janackova says, the most prominent problem which can spoil everyday activities for children is itchy skin. Children with eczema are usually nervous and cannot focus, and if they scratch, the situation gets worse. Discomfort steals away peace of mind as well as sleep. Your child frequently wakes up and cries. You become exhausted. The long hours you spend calming your child and your feeling of helplessness result in an excessive psychological load connected to high stress. The most frequent reaction that parents have is self-pity or increased tension connected to aggression. After several sleepless nights, mothers may blame and doubt themselves. This is the moment when help from the child’s father or other close friends is needed.

PSYCHOLOGIST

Katarina Vitkova
Slovak Republic

Relaxing with your family

Your child must feel that you both care for his emotions and that you're doing everything you can to help him feel better. The psychologist Katarína Vitkova recommends to her patients that they take time to relax together. 'It is good to teach children how to relax. In mindful relaxation they can imagine how their tension, worries, pain and itching related to their psychological state and stress go away. For children, short relaxation (three to five minutes) is enough and they do not need to go as deeply as adults.

It is good to teach children how to relax. In mindful relaxation they can imagine how their tension, worries, pain and itching related to their psychological state and stress go away.

How do you relax?

“The best is to relax together with children. A calm atmosphere can be created with soothing music or aromatic essence. We guide the children with words which we have prepared or learned somewhere else in advance. The aim is for the children to focus on their breathing and body parts. Any position will do for children. Let them choose the most comfortable one.”

Saying the words that help most…

"Now a magical relaxing time has arrived. We lie down, and our body is peaceful. Only the belly and chest move along with our breath. If we do not provide them with clear instructions, they might hold their breath. Breathe aloud, so that they can hear you. Exaggerate the breathing in order to help them breathe deeply. You can find relaxing, therapeutic or healing fairy tales online. Or just use your imagination. At the end, you "wake them up" with a soothing voice or a soft musical instrument such as a triangle. Let them express their feelings and experience. Children need this very much.”

Key points to remember

• Don't give in to feeling guilty, and don't try to assign blame.

• Make some time for yourself to stay centred. Have a nap with your child if she slept poorly last night.

• Show your child that you care about her problem.

• Address tension through relaxation or sports.

• Do not hesitate to seek help from a psychologist or family therapist.

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