Dealing With the Emotional Impact
If your child has vitiligo, you know that even though it isn’t dangerous to his or her physical health, it can still be a big deal. Any condition that makes kids look different from their peers can be emotionally tough, especially during the preteen and teen years when everyone’s trying so hard to fit in.
Some kids are naturally more resilient and do just fine against these challenges. But others need a bit more help. As a parent you can do a lot to arm your child with confidence and self-esteem.
Here are a few tips:
Don’t emphasize the vitiligo or put pressure on your child to cover it up. Your child needs to know your love and acceptance are unconditional.
Remind your child of all the things at which he or she excels — and how none has anything to do with skin color.
Teach your child to be comfortable explaining what vitiligo is — and isn’t — to other kids. Once the mystery is taken away, most kids will stop staring and asking questions.
Encourage your child to say “yes” — to play dates, pool parties, trips, and any other experiences he or she might be tempted to pass on because of the vitiligo.
Urge your child to volunteer or get involved in something altruistic. Whether it’s a food bank, pet shelter, or a political cause, giving back makes kids feel powerful.
Finally, get emotional support if your child needs it — especially if you see any signs of withdrawal, depression, or anxiety. Counselors, therapists, and vitiligo support groups can help.
Reviewed by: Patrice Hyde, MD