My Teenager has Scoliosis – Developing Positive Self-Image
The emotional effects of scoliosis in teenagers can be every bit as real and serious as its physical effects.
Scoliosis is a condition in which an individual’s spine has a lateral, or side to side curvature. In terms of its effects on your teen, Scoliosis can affect the shape of your teen’s back, rib cage, shoulders, and hips. In addition these changes can affect how he or she feels about herself.
Teenagers are already challenged by having to deal with the pressures of being a teen – throw in a diagnosis of Scoliosis and the added challenge may affect his or her self-confidence, relationship to peers and everyday behavior.
Many studies have found that teenagers with scoliosis are not happy with their appearance. They often fear their bodies are developing abnormally and view themselves in poorer health than their peers. Unfortunately a teen’s body image does not always relate to the size of his or her curve – your teen may have a relatively small curve and still refuse to wear bathing suits, tank tops, or tight fitting clothing.
Teenagers with scoliosis are also commonly unwilling to be involved with activities requiring them to wear a swimming suit or other clothing that might easily reveal the curvature of their spine, all of which can lead to social isolation. Adding to this many of these children are made to wear bulky and uncomfortable braces for up to 23 hours a day further limiting their physical activities and involvement with other children.
Long term statistical studies show patients deeply affected by scoliosis are more prone to depression and alcoholism later in life with 4 out of 5 women with scoliosis, never marrying.
Being diagnosed with scoliosis can cause your teen a lot of stress. When first diagnosed, your child may feel anxiety, fear, and withdrawal. These feelings tend to improve with time depending on treatment.
Having a strategy for dealing with your child’s diagnosis is key to the development of his or her positive self image. Below our some of our suggestions:
Tips to Help Your Teen Emotionally Deal with Scoliosis
- Discuss with your teen his or her diagnosis and the treatments available.
- Assure your child that the condition does not make him or her less of a person in school nor in the community.
- Accept your teenager’s feelings and communicate that you understand.
- Talk to your teenage son’s or daughter’s friends and educate them about Scoliosis and how they can help their friend have an easier journey.
- Don’t stop your teen from engaging in physical activities that he or she has always done but check with your physician for any necessary restrictions.
- Exercising regularly can help your teen feel better about her body.
- Find support groups for teens and families also dealing with Scoliosis- being in contact with other teens facing the same issues can help. Talking about the challenges of clothing, sports, and dating can help your teen cope better.