As children get older, they start to notice differences between themselves and begin to tease each other about those differences. And it’s not just kids who can be thoughtless – adults are guilty of it too. Although it is natural to stare, people will still point and make negative comments. Your eczema child has probably been the subject of a few mean comments but there are ways you can help boost their self esteem and encourage positive thinking. More concerning is that innocent teasing can build into bullying over time. By giving your eczema child the confidence to deal with this unwanted attention when they are young, you may be able to avoid more serious problems in the future.
Our tips for helping your eczema child deal with teasing
- Build your child’s self-confidence – Teasing is much easier to cope with if a child knows their own worth, and a strong. positive response to any teasing will discourage ongoing unwanted attention. Our article on building self-confidence in eczema children has lots of ideas for how to do this.
- Teach your child all about their eczema so they can spread their knowledge to others. There are some great books available to help kids understand eczema. Once your child knows exactly what he has then he’ll be confident when letting other children and adults know about it. There’s nothing like a 5 year old turning around to a staring stranger and saying ‘It’s only eczema. You can’t catch it’ to diffuse a situation.
- Talk to your child’s teacher – Most teachers are more than happy to sit their class down and talk to them about what eczema is, why it’s not contagious and what makes eczema flare up. Not only will the kids start to understand eczema, they will understand more about allergies and why they should keep certain foods or substances away from school. Kids are very receptive and will absorb any information like a sponge – this is no exception when learning about eczema. The National Eczema Society has some great resources for teachers.
- Talk to other parents at the school gates – talk to other parents (especially the ones that stare the most) about your child’s eczema and how difficult is it to control. Most people have some experience of eczema, around a quarter of our son’s friends have had it to some degree, but few have come across a really severe case. Remember that your child will take their lead from you, so if you are proactive and positive in the way you address people’s curiosity, you will give your child the confidence to deal with situations by themselves.
- Maintain your child’s skin care regime – it sounds obvious but we know from experience that it’s easy to let things slip during busy school terms. The better your child’s skin looks, the less they will be teased. Eczema is particularly obvious when it’s scratched or infected so try to help your child not to scratch and watch out for the early signs of infection (increased redness or puffiness that doesn’t respond to emollients or hydro-cortisone). Some children find that ScratchSleeves are a great way to avoid scratching, especially in their sleep, when they are chilling out in front of the TV or sat in the car on the way to school.
- Be prepared: When your child is young it’s often easier to say that people stare at them because of their wonderful curly hair or sparkly eyes. And this can work really well for a while. But at some point your child will work out why people are really looking. One kind, and usually accurate, explanation is that people have noticed your child’s sore skin but are too shy to ask about it.
In the longer term, teasing and staring can turn into bullying, which is far more concerning for any eczema parent. By helping your child develop coping strategies for dealing with unwanted attention when they are young they should be better protected from bullying as they grow up.
Here at ScratchSleeves we don’t just share our experiences of bringing up an eczema child (and favourite allergy friendly recipes), we also manufacturer and sell our unique stay-on scratch mitts for itchy babies, toddlers and children. We now stock sizes from 0-8 years in a range of colours. Visit our main website for more information.