From forgetting an inhaler to understanding when to use it, there are many reasons children may not comply with their asthma care plan – and it could be affecting the health and quality of their lives. Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalizations in children, according to the CDC.
To improve compliance, educators have been focusing on materials that are more engaging, especially for younger children. Booster Shot Comics has created a library of child-friendly videos, comic strips, and trading cards.
“The teen years can also be challenging when it comes to compliance,” said Tracy Rife, RN, BSN, AE-C, asthma and easy breathing program coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital. “But no matter how old your children are, it’s critical that you take the time and effort to encourage them to stick with the plan.”
- Give plenty of positive attention. A child’s defiant behavior is often an attempt to gain his parent’s attention.
- Praise good behavior. Positive reinforcement can go a long way in ensuring your child stays focused on being healthy.
- Make sure she understands instructions. Sometimes what appears to be poor behavior is actually a lack of understanding. When teaching your child about asthma care, establish eye contact and make sure she’s listening. Remove distractions like the TV or a cell phone.
- Present choices. You might ask, “Do you want to shake the inhaler or should I do it?” The ability to make a choice can make your child feel like he has some control.
- Offer incentives and rewards. You might say, “As soon as you use your inhaler we can go outside to play.” Children tend to respond well to positive reinforcement for good behavior.
- Avoid power struggles. These tend to worsen disobedience. Rather than engaging in power struggles, use if/then statements as a warning. For example, you might say, “If you don’t use your inhaler, we can’t go to the park to run around because your asthma could flare up.”
- Impose logical consequences. Counter each act of non-compliance with a negative consequence, such as a time out or the loss of a privilege. Be consistent.
- Get professional help. If your child’s defiance seems extreme, it could indicate a more serious, underlying behavioral problem. In this case, you may benefit from professional help from a specialist like a child psychiatrist or counselor.