Self-care tips for parents of a child with central precocious puberty
Parenting a child with any health condition is no small task. While your first priority may be to support them, it’s also important to know your needs throughout the process, from the time you receive the diagnosis through treatment and beyond.
“It’s important because it makes us better parents and caregivers to take care of ourselves,” says Carrie Sewell-Roberts, social work supervisor at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Delaware.
Being a caregiver of a child with central precocious puberty (CPP), a condition in which the normal process of puberty begins too early, can also come with its own set of challenges and self-care needs. To help you support yourself while taking care of your children, we spoke to experts who offered their suggestions on how to put your needs at the top of the list too.
Self-care tips for parents of children with CPP
Learning to support a child with CPP is a journey, so the process of self-care may feel different on day one than it will several months later. Here are some tips to help you with some of the steps in managing your child’s CPP, as well as some general advice you can use every day.
Treat the diagnosis at your own pace
When you learn that your child has CPP, the news can take a long time to digest. It’s okay if you aren’t able to completely absorb all the new information at first. Start by allowing yourself to take all the time you need to learn about the disease and get a good idea of the treatment options available.
Write down any questions you have and bring them every time you meet with your child’s doctor – and don’t be afraid to ask the same question multiple times. To help you process the responses, have a family member come with you to take notes that you can review and digest later.
Lean on your doctor
Although it can be tempting to search for answers in your spare time, try not to do too much research online. Set limits on your internet use as a guide. Instead, enjoy your health care
team for any questions or concerns. They can even point you to other useful resources that they can vouch for.
“I ask [parents] what are their concerns, what have they been told, what have they read, what do they know and start that way,” says Mitchell Geffner, MD, pediatric endocrinologist and Ron Burkle Chair at the Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “That, I think, tends to make the process a little smoother.”
Although Geffner encourages parents to learn about their child’s condition, he says not all sources are reliable. Since the first doctor’s appointments after diagnosis can yield a lot of new information, Geffner suggests referring to trusted sources such as the MAGIC Foundation and the Pediatric Endocrine Society for more information on CPP.
acknowledge your feelings
It’s normal to
have a lot of emotions when you learn of your child’s diagnosis and start new methods of care for CPP. Give yourself the time to pro
give them away in a healthy way.
Remember the po
and facts. It can be helpful, Geffner notes, to zoom out and keep perspective on the situation. Remember that CPR is a treatable disease, for example. “I try to relieve [anxiety] explaining that if need be, we can do something with a good result and safely,” says Geffner. “It helps, I think, a lot.
don’t blame yourself. Although you may be tempted to blame yourself after receiving the diagnosis, Sewell-Roberts says it’s important to “remember that being diagnosed with a child like this is not your fault, that you don’t You haven’t done anything wrong…and there isn’t anything you could have done differently to prevent it.”
Give yourself grace. Part of emotional processing is giving yourself space. Also know that you are not obliged to share information with people outside your entourage if you do not wish.
Take care of your own mental health
As a caregiver, you will also likely feel emotional pressure, which means taking care of your mental health is very important. While there are plenty of tips for doing this, and you want to know what works best for you, some common suggestions include:
- Eat well to have energy.
- Exercise to release stress.
- Be creative and try new things.
- Talk to a loved one for help.
- Get out into nature.
- Sleep more.
- Make plans for the things you love.
- Exchange a small act of kindness.
- Spend time away from your children.
- Address other stressors in your life (financial, relationship, etc.).
Connect with others
Just as there are many ways to turn inward and take care of yourself, there are also many avenues you can access for external support. In fact, it can help normalize the experience of a new diagnosis.
Check with your doctor to see if their practice has resources, staff, or departments that can connect you with other professionals or those in the CPP parent community.
Some organizations, like the Child Growth Foundation, have a dedicated helpline you can call for advice or to help you connect with other families who are on the same path. You might even consider joining a Facebook group for online peer support as well.
Ask for advice
If you are having trouble adjusting to your child’s diagnosis on your own, you may want to get help from a trained counsellor. Counseling can help you and your family better understand and manage the emotions and challenges that come with CPP. To find a professional, start by contacting your personal healthcare team for suggestions. Some offices have multidisciplinary teams that include mental health providers like social workers and psychologists to help offer support to families.