Helping a child face a diagnosis is not an easy task, especially if the child feels like he or she is going to be “tagged” for life by having to wear a medical alert bracelet. There are ways to help ease a child into their new realty – here are some tips to keep in mind during the transition.
Always be your child’s advocate. This may seem like a no brainer at doctor’s appointments and with school, but your child needs to hear you advocating for him or her in every location and step in his or her life. There will be times when you will inevitably disagree with your partner, your child’s teacher, counselor, and doctor about a course of treatment or way of approaching the subject with your child – but make sure that the disagreements focus more on the child’s needs rather than who’s correct in any situation.
Let your child take the lead when it comes to making decisions along the way with a course of treatment, and especially when determining whether to explain their diagnosis to peers and friends. Before your child decides whether to explain their new accessory to their peers, ensure they have a complete understanding of what it is and why they must wear it. If a child decides to disclose their new reality, help them do it in a way that makes them seem strong, as a child may be afraid to appear weak in a social situation. Simply explaining a medical alert bracelet as my “boo-boo bracelet” can work for a young child, while an adolescent may want to explain that they have a disorder that requires them to wear it. Help them practice explaining the disorder, and give examples of questions that their friends may ask so your child isn’t caught off guard.
When it comes to choosing your child’s medical alert bracelet, make sure you pick something that is sturdy, and check the bracelet clasps for durability (it should be waterproof and hold up to resistance and wear-and-tear). Help your child accept their new “accessory” as something that can look good as well as help them in a dangerous situation. There are very nice medical alert bracelets on the market that are geared at all ages and styles, so there should be a variety to chose from. Don’t make it sound like your child has to pick one to wear for the rest of their life – they can always “grow out” of a certain style and into another one.
The switch to wearing a constant reminder of a diagnosis can be difficult on a child emotionally, as well. Focus on your child’s needs as an individual when it comes to addressing the emotional component of wearing a medical alert bracelet – you know your child best. For some children, minimizing the medical alert bracelet may be the best approach, while others will want to talk about how they feel multiple times.
Helping your child through this transition is difficult, but can be made easier by remembering these tips.
Carly Chodosh is the Social Media Manager at Pearl & Clasp, a pearl jewelry company that specializes in restringing pearls, pearl clasps and custom designed pieces.