On average there are two children in every classroom in the UK with asthma and the NHS spends around £1 billion every year treating those with asthma, so let’s first use those statistics to quash any ideas that asthma is simply an excuse to get out of doing cross country.
Asthma is a long term condition and the UK has some of the highest rates of asthmatics in the world. Yet asthma itself is defined in many different ways. There is no “one size fits all” source of medication, and sometimes those who are medicated may still struggle with symptoms due to environmental factors, emotional factors or poorly utilising the medication. Knowing what the triggers are can help a great deal in avoiding an attack in the future.
That said, sometimes it is impossible to avoid all of the triggers, so knowing what to do should an attack happen is extremely important.
You can find out about the practical steps that should be followed if a child is having an asthma attack, via this article from Asthma.Org.Uk: http://www.asthma.org.uk/advice-asthma-attacks
In this article we are going to focus on helping to minimise an asthma attack by focusing on how we react, in conjunction with the practical tips listed by asthma.org.uk.
It’s important that children are informed without being overwhelmed or frightened. Calmly speak to your child about what happen should they have an attack one day. Tell them the process of steps that need to be followed, but also take time to reassure them that the attack will come to an end, that they will be alright and that they must focus on keeping calm. They can do this by focusing their attention on keeping a calm voice in their mind, imagining their airways as wide and strong and their breathing as steady.
Talking your child through the process and making sure that they know how to manage their state, can help them to become independent in managing their asthma. This is important, not just so that they can take care of themselves if an attack happens and you are not around, but also so that they have a sense of being on top of their asthma, and do not perceive it as something that is a tying them to their parents apron strings.
Consider how you want to react should an attack happen. It’s likely that reacting dramatically, in a shrill voice or scrambling around nervously, will only serve to make your child more anxious and worsen their symptoms.
Be reassuring, talk with a lower voice and use positive language with your child if they have an asthma attack. Be loving towards them and let them know that they are going to be alright. Make your voice pace with their outward breath and gradually slow your voice speed down to encourage their breathing to slow down with it.
Ensure teachers at school also know the process to follow, including any techniques that you have developed that are helpful, such as rubbing your child’s back in a reassuring way or speaking to them in a particular tone.
By Gemma Bailey www.NLP4Kids.org/gemma-bailey