Thursday, April 7, 2016

How To Help Your Teen Through A Cold

I remember when my elementary-aged son stayed home from school with a cold. I'd check his temperature every few hours, make him lots of tea, and we'd cuddle in my bed for hours watching TV.  He was all gooey, needed, and wanted mommy-loving. I was such a meticulous nurse that my husband would sleep in my child's room while I tended to my patient around the clock, even waking up to feel my child's forehead. I obsessed about how much he was eating, drinking, and peeing. Although at that point, I no longer needed to count pee-pee diapers, I did take copious notes just in case a doctor's visit was required.

Ahhh, those were the days!

Fast-forward as my now 15-year old recently complained of being hot and cold on and off, huddling under blankets in the den. Clearly, he had a virus. As I tried to baby him, it was outright rejected! In fact, he looked at me as if I was insane.

I get this look from my teen whether he's sick or not...

My nursing approach had to be modified from when he was little. But how? 

I took my cues from him. My patient basically hibernated in his room, where he spends most of his time anyway, whiling away the hours on his iPad, too sick to even sit at his computer to talk with his friends. The armpit I checked his temperature under is now a hairy mess and I was once again, cognizant of how he's a boy in an almost-man's body.  He needed me, but in a different way. 

 Here's what worked for me in getting this changling over his cold:

  1. Persuade, not order. Again, this is NOT your baby in the sense that you cannot order them to do something unless you have the strength to overpower a 100 pound plus teen. “Take this medicine” does not go over well with the members of this tribe. “You probably need to take...” or “this pill should make the pain go away” is a better approach.

  2. Provide them with lots of liquids, but don't nag them to drink. Reminding them that fluids are key to getting better saves your breath, since they tend to dig their heels in when you try to force them to do something they don't want to do. Remember: They know it all. We're idiots. Umpteenth reminder: the ordering ship has sailed.

  3. Take their temperature judiciously, preferably when they're sleeping. Advance with the caution you'd use with a wild animal.

  4. Take the team approach when trying to get them to go to the doctor. I said to Junior, “You're probably going to have to go to the doctor tomorrow;” this caused a MAJOR argument. “I won't go and you can't make me,” he yelled. He was right. WE needed to come to an agreement.  It ended with us agreeing that if his fever wasn't down, he'd go. I then knew that if he had the energy to argue, he wasn't as sick as I'd thought.

  5. Let them make mistakes. Mister Know-It-All went to school earlier than I advised and was sent home because he felt dizzy (nah nah nah nah nah). 

    Teenagers are moody as is.  They're worse when they're sick.

If the kid had been REALLY sick, he would have been more pliable and we'd have been to the doctor sooner, rather than later. I mean if they're suffering enough, they'll let you seek medical attention. And if I thought he was in any real danger, I'd have hauled his butt to the doctor, even if I had to take his iPod and have him chase after me to get it.  But this was a simple cold

Teenagers are precious. They're also hurricanes, changing moods every three seconds! Difficult as they are well, they can be even more trying when they're sick. Ditch the babying approach when they're sick, employ some of the strategies above, and, hopefully, your surly spawn will be back to their adolescent self in no time!

What works when your stubborn child is sick?   

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