Eighteen-year-old Christopher Wank from Leawood, Kan., has had systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since he was 12 and he’s now responsible for all his medications. But when he was younger, his mother, Laura, would check to make sure he was taking his medicine.

“I wouldn’t hound him on it but I made sure he was adhering,” she says.

Keep moving

Therapeutic exercises are not fun, and a survey conducted by Rapoff and colleagues found that kids and parents had more difficulty with exercises than with pills. But the benefits can be big for children who need to do them. Wright finds kids will do a limited number of exercises if she links them to an activity they want to do.

“If they want to play basketball then they need to have ankle range of motion so they’ll do those exercises,” she says. Passing a driving test requires neck mobility, applying mascara takes wrist movement. Smaller kids often like soccer or dance. Try to do exercises at a set time, perhaps when watching a TV program in the afternoon.

“I tell them every time there’s a commercial, the TV goes mute,” says Wright. “Do 10 repetitions very slowly and the sound is turned back on. If you don’t, it stays mute.” That’s effective motivation especially for kids with siblings. The bottom line is that complying with your child’s treatment plan is hard work that requires time and effort. But as Laura Wank succinctly puts it, “If you want your child’s health to get as good as it can get, then you don’t have any other choice but to stay on top of things.”