4 Tips to Help Teach Your Child About Self-Catheterization

Health Parenting

At a certain age, kids will be the first to tell you that they want more freedom, and more independence, especially as they head off to school. For many children who have Spina Bifida, part of that sense of independence includes being able to take care of their health regimen themselves. When using a catheter, for example, kids want to be as discreet as possible so it’s not obvious at school or outside of the house. That’s why we’re thrilled to share some new educational materials from Cure Medical that include kid-friendly catheter guides and teaching tools.

Educational resources are one of the best ways to ensure that, from the start, your child learns to follow the same steps every time when they are using a catheter. It’s much like tying a shoe!

As a parent, educational tools for cathing can help you too in reducing your concerns about infections, hygiene and your child’s responsibility for their own catheterization duties as they begin to transition into more self-care as they get older.

When your child begins to learn how to cath themselves, they’ll have a lot of questions about the catheter and its usage.  Even if your child is too young now to be concerned about cathing, they’ll be asking questions one day soon.  Here are some tips and tricks you can use to prepare your child for taking care of their catheter needs themselves.

1. Help Your Child Understand That Everyone Goes – Some Just Do It Differently

Parents, we know you worry about your child feeling different than other children especially when it comes to taking care of medical needs like using a catheter to go to the bathroom during the school day.

The easiest way to discuss these feelings with your child is to help them understand they’re doing something everyone does. 

Just like everyone gets sick from time to time, everyone uses the bathroom too, but sometimes we have to handle it a little differently.

Just like everyone gets sick from time to time, everyone uses the bathroom too, but sometimes we have to handle it a little differently.

You should let your child know that they’re only doing it in a slightly different way. Explain to your child that some people need to use the bathroom differently.

Reassure your child their catheter is there to help them take care of going to the bathroom quickly and easily so they can get back to having fun in class or on the go.  If you normalize catheter usage, your child may feel less embarrassed and more practical about using the restroom, especially when you aren’t around.

2. Teach the Importance of Following the Same Steps Each Time to Be Clean and Healthy

When your child begins to self-cath, they need to be mature and responsible enough to understand the importance of keeping their catheter and cathing area clean during the process.

We know this is a challenge! Kids are great at making messes but in this case, it’s important to reduce the possibility of getting a UTI or another infection.

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Also, your child should understand that tugging or excessively touching the catheter tube could cause discomfort or misconfigure the catheter’s placement.  Be sure to stress the importance of staying clean and leaving their catheter alone, but help your child through the process so they know that they can easily handle it well.

Many catheter manufacturers offer free instructions for use on specific kinds of catheter products that you can easily obtain from your medical supply provider or the manufacturer.

3. Be Sure to Choose a Catheter that Doesn’t Have Scary Chemicals

Parents only want what’s best for their children and keeping them safe from harmful chemicals is becoming an everyday battle. This is especially true for children who have Spina Bifida, as these individuals may be allergic to latex and other chemicals.

Children often have more severe allergic reactions than adults do, and this is due to their body size.

A family playing at the skating rink in winter.

If your child has allergies or asthma, you already know that sometimes they can have more serious reactions than an adult might have.

A small amount of allergy-inducing substance often has a higher impact on a 40-lb. child than it will on a 200-lb. man. Finding the right catheter that works for your child can be frustrating, especially when you’re trying to find one that’s safe and easy-to-use.

tips-to-help-teach-your-child-about-self-catheterization-6You may want to ask your medical supply provider for a child’s catheter that is not made with known-carcinogens DEHP, BPA or natural rubber latex – especially for parents who are mindful about their children’s chemical or allergen exposure.

Some catheter manufacturers still use Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) as an economical means for making catheters flexible, and this is still legal.   DEHP is included on a published Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer and reproductive harm according to the state of California. The chemical’s risk for harm is so great, however, that Federal law has already banned DEHP in children’s toys as the chemical can be absorbed through the mouth and hands.  Learn more about the dangers of DEHP here.

Avoiding DEHP in Catheters: Featuring Dr. Gerard Henry

Reducing exposure to known carcinogens is a legitimate concern for people who have a higher risk for cancer due to hereditary or other health issues.  For example, the incidence rate of bladder cancer in people who have spinal cord injury (SCI) is 16 to 28 times higher than that of the general population, according to a research study published by model SCI center Craig Rehabilitation Hospital.

tips-to-help-teach-your-child-about-self-catheterization-7The good news is that a large selection of quality-made, user-friendly intermittent catheters exist today that are not made with DEHP.

Cure Medical CEO John Anderson explains, “The use of DEHP in catheters creates a number of health risks including patient exposure to hazardous chemicals which leaches from vinyl medical devices.”

“When there are options available to create intermittent catheters that work just as well as those made with standard chemicals, there’s really just no reason to use these chemicals anymore if you can avoid it. Cure Medical believes it’s the right thing to do, so we made the decision to go without DEHP in our products,” Anderson adds.

Feel free to ask your supply provider for a catheter that doesn’t expose your child to DEHP, BPA or natural rubber latex. If you can avoid these chemicals altogether, there’s no reason not to do so.

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You want your child to realize they are their own hero when it comes to making healthy choices.

4. Use Teaching Tools to Make Cathing More Fun to Learn

Healthcare professionals and seasoned parents know that activity books and visual aids can help your child better understand the self-catheterization process.  A variety of medical supply providers offer educational materials that clearly explain everything a child needs to know about catheters, but the information is presented in a format that’s fun and easy to understand for children.

Cure Medical is now offering a new education program that parents can utilize to teach their children “How to Cath.” Developed by a team of medical professionals including registered nurses, the Cure Medical educational materials come with fun instruction tools and resources like:

  • Backpacks in blue and pink with no logos — for discretion at school or away from home,
  • Flash cards for boys and girls that also include steps for cathing with or without stomas,
  • Coloring books with crayons, a complimentary toy – and more!

Written By Monica Manley of Wheel:Life

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