18:42 PM

Smart Tips to Help Your Kid Cope With JIA

Health Central shares tips shares tips from HSS chief of pediatric rheumatology, Karen Brandt Onel, MD and others for parents of children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) on how they can better cope with their condition.

If you’re tense or upset, it’s likely your child will pick up on this and become anxious too, explained Dr. Onel. “I can’t tell you how many times the parent is crying while the child is getting their labs done,” she said. Even subtle signs of parental distress, like a grimace or a furrowed brow, can be enough to affect your child, she added. 

When you’re a kid, hearing that you’ll be on medication for the rest of your life can be tough. It’s important to instill hope in your child, as Dr. Onel cited that finding a cure in her patients’ lifetime is very possible. “My patients are very little. If you think about how far we’ve come in the last 30 years, [it's] one hundred percent,” she noted. In the meantime, the vast majority of kids with JIA do find a treatment that works for them, preventing any permanent damage from occurring. And, many go into remission and lead long, healthy normal lives, she noted.

As a child gets older and starts to develop an identity, he or she probably won’t want to be known as “the kid with arthritis.” But making their childhood as normal as possible can mean not giving into your own anxieties. “Your first instinct is you want to hold them close. You don’t want them to do anything that gets them injured,” said Dr. Onel. But the fact is, overprotected children may not perform as well in life, she added, if they never get a chance to develop the resilience and confidence needed to succeed. She encouraged parents to ask their child’s physician about their limitations. If given the green light, children should try different activities and go out with friends. “You want that real life waiting for them,” Dr. Onel noted. “I say this as a mother: Some people just know how to let their kids soar, even when they’re scared. We could all learn a lesson from them.”

Read the full article at HealthCentral.com.