Parenting children with eczema does bring unique challenges, such as scratching (till bloody) when being disciplined or guilty when eczema worsens (yet again). MarcieMom has the privilege of asking The Parenting Expert, Sue Atkins, on her advice for dealing with these challenges. Sue is the author of the best-selling book ‘Parenting Made Easy – How to Raise Happy Children’ and also regularly appears on BBC Breakfast television, The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and has her own regular “Ask Sue” Parenting Q & A phone-in on BBC Radio Surrey and Sussex.
MarcieMom: Thank you Sue, I’m so glad to have you share your insights on parenting as many parents, myself included, face dilemmas when parenting our eczema children. Let’s jump right in to the top issues that we face!
When it comes to discipline, many moms feedback that once they try to do so, their toddlers will start scratching (I’ve even drawn a cartoon on tantrum scratching!). Then, we are faced with the decision – do we continue to follow through our intended discipline method or do we stop and persuade our child to stop scratching. What would be your advice on this and is there a particular discipline method that you’ve seen worked better for children with eczema? Also, when children with eczema throw tantrums, they tend to scratch too! Given how fast blood can easily come from the already defective skin barrier, it’s difficult to leave our child alone to ‘finish’ throwing tantrum. How do you recommend parents to deal with this?
Sue Atkins: I do think that children with eczema have a tough time. Of course having an itchy skin makes your little one irritable However I am not sure which comes first the irritability, where they are crying and getting themselves hot and bothered which makes the eczema worse, or the eczema being extra itchy and making them irritable.
I always say that the toddler years are a bit like taming jelly – all wobbles and no rules, for all parents as all toddlers are striving for independence, which can lead to frustration and tantrums and tears but add in guilt from the parent, and you have a difficult mixture. But I think knowing WHY you are being firm, fair and consistent also helps as your child will feel more secure, relaxed and safe which will also have a bearing on their eczema as they will be more at ease.
I work with many parents who feel a tremendous sense of guilt around their child’s eczema and over compensate by giving in to their children’s tantrums and demands but really you are setting yourself up for a short term gain but a long term nightmare. Children, of all ages benefit from firm, fair, consistent boundaries. I also teach the parents I work with to “tap” out their feelings of guilt using the latest cutting edge Emotional Freedom Technique.
“GUILT – The “BIG G” and gremlin of parenting !
MarcieMom: Thank you Sue for sharing your advice; I’ve to check myself that I’m not over-compensating but some days, it’s just so stressful! Next Friday, we’ll learn from you how to make better parenting decision, without being stressed out!