Supervising Children with Bleeding Disorders—Tips for Parents
Susan Gamerman, APN, NP, Hematology/Oncology, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Taking risks is a natural part of growing up. But there are those times when kids take "unnecessary risks." Often children may not even realize they're putting themselves in harm's way. With toddlers, for example, it's perfectly natural to venture up a staircase without a strategy for getting down. School-aged children may still not realize that they're taking risks. Rather they are just testing their territory and the limits their parents have set for them. In the teen years, rebellion tends to play more of a role in risk taking. But whatever the reason, all children, regardless of an underlying disorder or their age, are usually testing their sense of self and challenging the limits of their bodies.
To limit injury with young children, baby proofing, child proofing, and adult supervision go a long way. With school-aged children, underscoring the need for proper safety equipment when playing sports and helping them make good decisions about appropriate activities are key. Even with proper education there are times when kids play backyard football (even though they shouldn't) or are otherwise away from the mindful eyes of parents. That's usually when kids get injuries they don't immediately notice, don't report to their parents, or can't pinpoint the cause of. Assuming the injuries are not serious or life-threatening, these occasions are great opportunities for learning. Kids often come to the conclusion themselves that they need to be more careful next time. If not, parents need to step in and explain the risks and repercussions.
For teens who have more independent time, managing risky behavior becomes even more challenging. Often kids think, "I never have any problems" or "I don't really bleed that often. I should be fine." As a caregiver, it's really important to set boundaries and parameters to help your child make good decisions. But it's also important to know your child's friends and be aware of his social network. This will give you a sense of what kind of activities your child is involved in and how risky these activities may be.
With a good foundation, you should be able to work with your child to keep unnecessary risks to a minimum. If you need help building that strong foundation, you can turn to community programs, your treatment center, and educational programs through the National Hemophilia Foundation. Educate your child about their hemophilia, safe activities to limit injury, and making wise choices, while still allowing them to be children. And remember, ultimately children with hemophilia have similar interests as other children. Just be careful not to unreasonably limit your child.