Entering school can be awkward enough, but dealing with asthma at school can make children feel that much more 'different.' The following tips can help you manage you child's asthma as they enter school.
- Monitor Your Child's Asthma at School.
In order to understand how your child is coping with asthma at school, you need to monitor their asthma and its effects. In addition to regularly performing your peak flows as part of your asthma action plan, you may want to get a more global picture of how asthma affects your school age child. Start with these 2 questions that will create a dialogue between you and your child:
- What is the hardest part of having asthma at school?
- How can we make treatment easier for your asthma at school?
The answers to these questions will give you some actionable ideas to improve your child’s quality of life at school.
- Color Code Inhalers to Help With School Asthma
An important step for the school age child is learning which inhaler is used for prevention and which is used for quick relief. Get some stickers from the local dollar store and let your child pick the color and meaning. For example, a purple sticker for the controller medication could mean prevention. Identifying which inhaler to use is an important first step in your child learning how to independently manage their asthma.
School Asthma- Know Your Child's Rights
- Make Prevention a Habit In School Asthma.
Another big challenge with preventive therapy for asthma is getting your child to remember to use it. One strategy is to tie asthma prevention to another behavior you want to encourage and are probably already monitoring- like brushing teeth.
Make asthma prevention part of your regular getting dressed and going to be routine. If you go into the bathroom with your child and monitor their teeth brushing, this might also be a good time to take their preventive asthma medication.
- Use Rewards for Managing Asthma at School.
Do you remember how crazy you may have gotten when trying to potty train your child and the things you might have done to get your child to sit on the potty chair? While each parent has to decide how they feel about using rewards to promote behavior, giving your child a treat like reading them an extra book at bedtime or some sort of special snack may help your child remember to use their controller inhaler.
One problem with a rewards system is that the behaviors tend to disappear when the reward stops. You may want to progressively increase or at least vary the time endpoint where your child gets the reward to help deal with this.
Another potential problem is sibling rivalry if brothers or sisters sense an asthmatic child is receiving more attention. A potential solution is to encourage siblings to help remind an asthmatic to use their inhaler and reward everyone with a special treat like a family outing or video rental.
- Realize That Your Child Learns in Many Different Ways.
Just as your child had a hard time learning how to use a fork and knife for the first time, learning how to use an inhaler requires a certain level of manual dexterity and experience. While repetition and practice will often make this much easier, make sure you talk with your health care provider if your child is having problems.
Help your child understand asthma using analogies. Having your child breathe through different size tubes may help them understand what is happening when their asthma worsens. But, stay away from balloon analogies, as you do not want your child thinking their lung is going to pop!
- Educate anyone caring for your child's asthma at school.
Make sure you talk to siblings, teachers, babysitters, grandparents, and parents of your child's friends so that they understand how asthma affects your child.
One way to have people get a real understanding of what asthma is like for your child is to simulate asthma for them. You can accomplish this by having them exercise a short distance while breathing through a small tube or straw to simulate what goes on in asthmatic lungs.
School Asthma- More Tips For Talking To People Caring For Your Child
- Listen to Your Child to See What School Asthma Problems Are Occurring.
Your child has to know that you are going listen to and believe them if they are having trouble with their asthma. Children with asthma generally do not "fake" asthma attacks to get attention because struggling to breath is not fun. Mutual respect and trust will lead to more openness in discussing your child's illness and make it easier for you to help your child get control of their asthma.
- Keep Your Doctor Appointments.
Because asthma is a chronic disease that will wax and wane over time, regular check-ups with your healthcare provider are very important. Regularly assessing medication usage and adjusting asthma medications will help keep your child's asthma under control. Better control of your child's asthma will improve their emotional health by allowing your child to feel more like other children without asthma.
- Get Involved.
Many organizations like the American Lung Association have Asthma Support Groups. As a parent, these groups will help you learn more about asthma from people who have experienced asthma in your community. Identifying other children with asthma, your child can interact other kids who encounter the same difficulties your child may be experiencing.
- Have Fun Together.
Having fun together by participating in a variety of different activities with your child allows for the development of positive attitudes that will facilitate coping with asthma on a daily basis.
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Consumer information. Accessed January 1, 2009. Talking With Your Child About Asthma