A child with asthma needs to take responsibility for his own health from an early age, as you will not always be with him to detect the signs of an imminent attack. He must be taught to recognize when his asthma is getting out of control and be fully knowledgeable about his medicine. He will soon learn to predict when an attack of wheezing is about to happen and when he needs to use his inhaler.

He also needs to be sure in his own mind of the things that are likely to trigger and attack so that he can avoid them as far as possible or take extra medication should avoidance be impossible. Being kept fully informed and given responsibility for the management of his own condition from an early age will help him to agree even if he has a severe attack. Discuss any changes in his care plan with him and always encourage him to ask questions.

He should become involved in the discussion you have with the doctor about his asthma as soon as you feel he is old enough to understand what is being said. Even a very young child can quickly become an expert on his own condition. Feeling very protective towards your child is understandable, particularly after some acute attacks. It is, however, important to see him as an individual.

Resist any temptation to fuss. Making your child feel like an invalid could seriously affect his self esteem and delay his emotional and social development. There is also the danger that if you are over anxious he may take a cue from you and become constantly fearful. Or he may use the asthma as an excuse to get out of doing things he could easily do not want to want.