When you’re a parent, the childhood milestones are many. Flash, blink, bam—and then the rite of passage to adulthood starts. Yeah, I know… I flew through those first 18 years pretty fast, but it does all zip by at warp speed. It’s transition time—from childhood to adulthood.
And if you happen to be the caregiver of a child who lives with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you may know all too well the stress that may accompany this switch from parent as advocate to self-advocacy.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) involves chronic inflammation of all or part of the digestive tract. IBD primarily includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both usually involve severe diarrhea, pain, fatigue, and weight loss. IBD can be debilitating and sometimes leads to life-threatening complications.
As a loving parent, you care for your child. You think about their needs. You talk with teachers, family members and others about those needs. And you help your child get support in and out of school.
But as part of taking care of your child, you may want to encourage them to speak up and learn how to self-advocate.
Self-advocacy is when your child understands their strengths and weaknesses, knows what they need to succeed and communicates that to other people.
Self-advocacy isn’t easy for many kids. Children may feel awkward or even guilty about asking for help or for an accommodation. That’s especially true if a child feels easily embarrassed.
As with any valuable skill, practice can help your child learn self-advocacy. Practice can also help them feel more comfortable about asking for help.
The sooner your child gets started, the more natural it will feel.