The strategies for better helping our children
At Misurina, the only high-altitude centre specialised in the treatment and rehabilitation of paediatric asthma, children and adolescents with asthma are fully cared for, including psychological support, as called for by international asthma treatment guidelines.
In fact, in most cases parents on their own are able to overcome the burden of their child’s asthma. So, the winning strategy is within reach. However, they have to become able to “relax” the excessively protective bubble that they have created around their child.
Rather than always holding their hands, telling them every day how they should behave, including with medicines, it is better to teach them how to manage their illness on their own. Let them play with other children, join the scouts, play sports, if the doctor says it is okay. Because these activities have the same beneficial effects as medicine.
This does not mean abandoning them completely, but rather empowering them to manage their own treatment and, by extension, their own lives. “In my clinical experience,” explains Alberta Xodo, “overcoming this difficult challenge has a calming effect, reducing the anxiety of parents and increasing the self-esteem of children. This is fundamental for school-aged children.”
When help is needed
However, there are certain situations, for example in the case of particularly grievous, chronic asthma, that require psychological support for the whole family (as well as the child). “If I understand that my anxiety is getting the best of me, that my ‘tension thermometer’ is about to explode,” says Alberta Xodo, “I need to get psychological assistance and counsel, supporting me in handling my particularly anxious states, conflicts caused by serious asthma and difficult implementation of therapies.”
Find psychological support at Misurina
“At Pio XII the service is available not only to Misurina patients,” explains Xodo, “but also to the family members wanting a global assessment and diagnosis (i.e., even psychological) of the illness of their child. Over the course of the day, we perform a full assessment of the child and the family background.” After the assessment and identification of the problem, Misurina offers assistance and specialised consultation to understand the psychological implications of asthma during growing years, and learn how to manage one’s own anxieties, including aspects of family life that seem only marginally affected by the child’s asthma. “Because at Misurina,” concludes Dr Xodo, “we don’t treat the asthma, we take care of the child suffering from asthma.”
Parents can contact the non-profit Istituto Pio XII by sending an email to Misurina Psychological Services
Attention: The psychological services at Pio XII are an integral part of the general diagnosis of the child and are part of the admissions process for the child with asthma, which obviously also includes a respiratory diagnosis.
Sources and references:
- GINA Asma. Linee-Guida Italiane. 2011 update (download the PDF). Last access 10.11.2015.
- Macedo EC et al. Burden and quality of life of mothers of children and adolescents with chronic illnesses: an integrative review. Rev. Latino-Am. Enfermagem 2015;23(4):769-777.
- Silva N et al. Mapping the caregiving process in paediatric asthma: Parental burden, acceptance and denial coping strategies and quality of life. Psychol Health. 2015 Feb 6:120.
- Soo WF, Tan NG. The influence of caregivers’ knowledge and understanding of asthma aetiology on domiciliary management of children with asthma. Singapore Med J 2014; 55(3): 132-136.