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Talking to Your Child About Asthma

Essential Tips for Parents

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Updated: February 21, 2008

As a parent, part of your role with your child with asthma is to help him or learn about asthma and how to take control of it. You can help your child understand about asthma and serve as a trusted coach and support person.

The best approach is to be honest and open with your child. Explain that asthma is a serious, lifelong condition. But, also stress that it can be managed by avoiding triggers, through medicine, and by taking fast action when symptoms do start to flare. And make sure that your child understands that he or she can still have a normal childhood and take part in most play and school activities, even with asthma.

As your child grows, you will need to learn how to balance supervising their choices while encouraging their independence and decision-making.

Tips for Talking About Asthma With Different Age Groups

With very young children, it may be hard for them to grasp what asthma is or how medicines work. Your job is to try to make treatment time as fun as possible, especially for children on nebulizers. There are many Web sites that have asthma educational activities for children. You can also demonstrate key activities on your child's favorite toy or doll.

Once children are old enough to attend school, they want to be "just like the other kids." So, your job is to help them understand how to manage their asthma so it stays under control and does not interfere with the activities they want to do, such as sports. Children of this age can start to take some responsibility for their own treatment too.

As your child enters the teen years, independence becomes paramount. So, begin to allow your child to manage his or her asthma treatment plan more and more. This will help your child to gain self-confidence. Talk about the importance of taking medicine and the consequences of not taking it. Offer guidance and support too.

Make Sure Your Child Knows What to Do During an Asthma Attack

One of the most important things to talk with your child about asthma is what to do when asthma symptoms flare up. They need to know how to take quick action to prevent a full-blown asthma attack.

The key to this is having an Asthma Action Plan. Every person who has asthma should have an action plan in place that tells exactly what to do when symptoms flare up. An action plan will list early warning signs of an attack (symptoms to watch for) and then tells what medicines or other actions to take, based on the severity of the symptoms.

If you make your child an equal partner in the management of his / her asthma, then communication should come naturally!

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