Some topics of conversation are just not easy to bring up, especially with young children. You wonder how much they will actually understand. You worry they could react in a negative way and cause heightened sensitivity to the subject. Yet, as parents or caretakers of children it is important to address the topic of lice. The CDC states that anywhere from 6 to 13 million people acquire lice per year in the United States, most often children between the ages of 3-11. When it is that common of a problem talking to your kids about prevention and symptoms is essential to staying lice free.
The way you talk to children can have a lot to do with the way they react. Asking specific questions can help break the ice and make it more likely they will respond. One example of this is to start by asking open ended questions like, “What was your favorite thing about school today?” This can help to initiate conversation because kids are into details. They want to tell you about specific things that meant something to them.
Keep things simple. Share the facts about lice with them in a simple, precise way they can understand. It can be tempting to get into the gory details or use scientific names, yet this can just cause confusion or boredom. Cutting to the chase makes them feel like they are capable of understanding and have the ability to be part of the conversation.
Don’t overreact. Children look to us as examples in all we do. If we are quick to act stressed or worried it can easily rub off onto them. Be patient, calm and remember that this is a common problem. If your child has been sent home from school for lice or if you suspect they are carriers it is best to first be sure. Contact the Lice Clinic of America, Vacaville and take your family in for lice head checks. If you comb through and inspect their head at home do not be easily grossed out or act shocked. Prepare yourself and be adult about it. If you are acting scared, so will they.
Avoid nagging and acting disappointed. It is really no ones fault if a child acquires lice. Nagging or complaining, making them feel dirty or gross is NOT a good approach to helping your child through this. When children are nagged at their motivation is replaced with discouragement. Children want positive affirmation and will be easy to persuade and work with if parents use kind words and actions toward them. Rewards, or even just patient and uplifting words are your best bet in getting them to cooperate. This also creates an environment of positivity and facilitates a healthier relationship between parent and child.
Lastly, make sure that they understand. Ask direct questions, then patiently wait for an answer. Once you are sure they are able to grasp the concept of what you are teaching them the conversation can move forward at a pace that helps them to keep up. Too often in discussions with children they just choose to smile and nod, not really having a clue what is being said. Stopping to make sure they comprehend makes them feel safe and confident in your trust and concern for them.