It is heartbreaking to know that your child suffers from chronic pain. Every day is a challenge. Follow these steps to develop a strategy to help your child thrive in spite of chronic pain.
Your child might not be able to handle a full day of school at first—especially after a few months off—so be careful not to take on more than your child can handle. Start small, with just one or two classes per day if necessary. Then gradually work up to a full school day. You may also consider splitting your child’s day between regular and online classes or supplementing homeschooling with a few on-campus classes each day.
Perhaps the most important tip for managing your child’s chronic pain at school is to get help. Talk to your child’s doctor about how to cope with the demands of school. Make sure the doctor has experience in this area; pain management specialists, physical therapists, psychiatrists, and rheumatologists can be especially helpful.
You should also look for support groups for you and your child. Finding others who can relate to your struggle and offer advice from personal experience will help keep your spirits up. You may be surprised at how much of a difference social interaction can make.
No matter how your day is going, stay positive. Remember that children respond to praise better than threats or punishments. Every step in the right direction should be applauded—especially on your child’s worst days. Instead of getting frustrated when your child struggles, try a different approach.
When an entire day of school seems overwhelming, try the “foot in the door” technique (often used in sales) to break your daily routine into small requests. Start by asking, “Can you get out of bed?” When your child follows through with that, offer praise and move on to the next step. Each “yes” will be easier than the last and will get you one step closer to school.
No matter how insignificant an activity seems, if it makes your child happy, make it a priority. Exercise, for instance, can help you battle both pain and depression. You should also teach your child some relaxation techniques, similar to those taught in birthing classes, to help reduce tension. Develop a plan for how to cope with pain at school, too. This could include regular breaks to stretch and rest or distract the mind through drawing or listening to music.
Every child is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution for children with chronic pain. The most important thing is for your child to function—whether that means homeschooling, a trimmed-down schedule, or combining relaxation and persuasion techniques. Don’t be afraid to try new things until you find what works for you.