Helping Children Follow Their Medical Treatment Program:
Guidelines for Parents of Children with Rheumatic Diseases
Adapted and published with permission from Michael A. Rapoff, PhD of the University of Kansas Medical Center, author of "Helping Children Follow their Medical Treatment Program: Guidelines for Parents of Children with Rheumatic Diseases"
Following a treatment program for a chronic disease is not easy. Everyone needs some encouragement and this is particularly true for children living with chronic diseases. When your child is consistently following her treatment program, it is important that you give her positive feedback. This is most effective when done immediately after your child does what was asked of her.
Praise is not just for younger children. Even teenagers like to hear positive comments (maybe because there are fewer opportunities or reasons for them to hear these). You can also give positive feedback in more tangible ways such as allowing your child to earn "tokens" (stickers, poker chips, etc.) for adhering and to trade them in for special activities, things, or for weekly allowances.
You might be saying, "Well, isn’t this like bribing my child to do something he is supposed to do anyway?" To bribe someone means to offer them something good for doing something illegal or immoral. To reward your child for following her treatment program is not bribing her. Even though your child "should" know what to do and do it because it can help her, children don’t often reason this way and don’t always see the long range consequences of their actions or lack of action.