Getting your Child to Listen to Medical Advice

Getting your Child to Listen to Medical Advice

Here are the power struggles you’ll have a difficult time winning: forcing your child to eat, drink, sleep, pee or poop at your whim. However, there are a couple techniques you can try to help them adhere to the medical advice they were given.

  1. Avoiding power struggles. Don’t start power struggles with opening them up to make decisions and then taking that decision away. For instance: “do you need to go to the bathroom?” “Oh, you better try anyway.” You just asked them what they thought and then told them they were wrong. You need to address it as, “It’s 4 o’clock, go pee.” This is a very concrete direction and if they say they don’t have to you say, “go try.”
  2. Not understanding the why of the advice. Gretchen Rubin wrote a whole book on 4 Tendencies. One of the tendencies is questioner. Adults with this tendency need a very thorough explanation to follow through with new habits. Same goes for children with this tendency. Explaining that they are stretching out their bladder during the day with hydrating and then exercising their bladder by emptying might get this type of child to follow your directions. Often times providers don’t speak to the child to get them to change their habits, they speak to the parent to enforce habit changes. This doesn’t always work.
  3. Explaining cause and effect. If your child is having hard painful poops, if you go into the bathroom with them (or immediately afterward) and explain that their poops hurt because they refused to drink Miralax for 3 days might help them understand cause and effect.
  4. Rewarding the habit, not the dry bed. Often times I have older patients that feel like nothing is going to help so why bother. These kids need the right motivation assigned to the right habit. If they refuse to use the bedwetting alarm you can motivate them by rewarding them for politely putting it on and trying their best to wake up at night rather than rewarding them for being dry.
  5. Finding the right motivation. Sometimes being dry at night isn’t enough of a motivator for a child. (Crazy, but some kids feel like it’s normal since they’ve always done it.) Some kids need small rewards frequently and some need a big reward at the end. Sit down with your child and write down the expectations and ask them what they need to be successful. To use the alarm every night, they must do it without prompting. To ensure this happens, we are setting an alarm on their phone to remind them. After doing this for 1 month we will get them the new lego set they’ve been asking for or a night out at the batting cage with dad. Be very specific on how they can meet their goal and what the reward will be and then follow through.
  6. Meet with your provider again. Sometimes a kid needs to hear the exact reasons they might be wetting the bed and then the habit that needs to change to help that problem. A medical professional might be able to answer those questions more confidently than a parent. If your child has a great deal of respect for their provider you can request a follow up visit to discuss their progress and adherence to their treatment plan. It help to track their habit daily so they can bring back solid evidence that they are meeting all of their goals.

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