Use these straightforward approaches to help your kids practice proper migraine self-advocacy
Proper self-care is an important value to teach young migraine patients as early as possible. Kids should already be learning about healthy habits from a young age, but it’s especially beneficial for children with migraine to understand that these practices are also part of good “migraine self-advocacy.” The following tips will help your child lead a healthy life and give them a means of managing their migraine:
Take your medications
Some young people need to be reminded to take their medication. Make sure you learn from your child’s doctor how and when their medication should be taken, and take a proactive role in being sure your child complies. If your child’s migraine attacks change—becoming more frequent or more severe, for instance—be sure to tell their doctor, since a new treatment approach may be needed.
Your child’s migraine attacks can be brought on by many factors, big and small—not getting enough sleep (or getting too much), stressing out about life events like a big test or family troubles, and even outside events like natural disasters. Try to stay alert to events in your child’s life and help guide him or her to maintain healthy habits:
- Make sure they sleep at the same hours nightly, if possible
- Make sure that they exercise regularly to both reduce stress and help keep their weight under control
- See to it that they eat on a regular schedule and don’t skip meals—low blood sugar may cause headache
- Encourage fresh fruit and unprocessed foods whenever possible
- Decrease caffeine intake from soft drinks and iced tea to one a day or less
- Check to be sure they drink plenty of water, particularly during the summertime
In addition to life events that can throw your child off-track and bring on a migraine attack, new research in stress management—also known as cognitive behavior therapy—shows it has significant value in helping children with chronic headache.
Relaxation techniques, biofeedback and other stress management tools do work in reducing the severity and disability related to migraine. Although young people (and their parents) may resist this approach, evidence is mounting that it’s worth trying if your child’s migraine attacks are debilitating.
To read more about stress management in kids with migraine, click here. For help finding someone who can facilitate CBT, check out the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.
As a parent, one of the best ways to foster proper headache hygiene is education—for both yourself and your child. It’s important for young people to know that though their migraine may be a significant problem, they are still normal kids. To learn more about building healthy habits for children with migraine, visit the American Migraine Foundation resource library. For help finding a specialist in your area, check out the AMF Find a Doctor tool.
Reviewed for accuracy by the American Migraine Foundation’s subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisers with deep knowledge and training in headache medicine. Click here to read about our editorial board members.