Pause for a moment and think how many times you have said “Stop Scratching!” today. I used to keep saying that to my baby girl Marcie until I read that it is not the best way to get her to stop scratching. There’s little research done in this area available online, but supposedly, asking your child to stop doing something is less effective than rewarding him/her for not doing it. Also, it can annoy/upset your child to be told consistently to stop doing something that they can’t control. My own guess is that they are smart enough to know that scratching gets our attention and even do it more when throwing tantrum.
Here are a few tactics for teaching our children not to scratch that I read online, some which I use:
1. Get your child to hold the itchy part tightly (supposed to help relieve some itch, but I don’t practise it as my baby is too young and likely result in her to focus more on the itchy part)
2. Distract the child (that’s what I do all the time, check my post on keeping fingers busy, coloring and I also learn sign language with my baby. Sometimes, at night, when she scratches while trying to fall asleep, asking her to show me a sign works)
3. Set up a reward chart with stickers to reward not scratching
4. Try wearing eczema clothing (I haven’t tried this but a parent have recommended to me)
5. Cut nails short (I haven’t cut Marcie’s nails for more than half a year cos she “files” them herself)
What is most important to me is to stop remarking to my hubby that it is his bad gene and also to banish the words “bad skin”. I noticed that my baby scratches even when alone, as scratching feels good, so I am also very careful not to imply she’s doing it on purpose.
I have drawn a picture book (published as e-book, “A to Z Animals are not scratching!” to teach young children not to scratch and also starting a support group for moms (and dads) who need people to understand what we are going through (and hopefully, we can reduce the inadvertent “Stop Scratching!” to our children!).