I feel I must share a discovery. Some of which I have made and some I have inherited but it has really helped me and many others too! Along the way through childhood, there are many a bump and bruise to be had. Some are more serious than others but invariably you will find yourself trying to calm your little one down as intense screaming can only compound pain and make it worse. Basically, we are trying to teach our children how to deal with pain effectively so that they can take the opportunity to learn from the accident rather than focussing intensely on the infliction for so long that they end up forgetting why it happened in the first place.
In the first instance, the parents’ reaction is everything. I actually experimented with this on my kids and it was quite astounding to see just how hard Jack could bump his head without crying. He just carried on regardless, like a little bull terrier! If a bump or a fall is immediately followed by a mother’s sharp inhalation, you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be followed by tears. Surely, if you are worried or anxious, they have good reason to be worried or anxious too! If you can bring yourself not to be the first to react to an accident that you know would normally bring tears (and it’s certainly not easy, I know) you will be surprised by how courageous your little one is capable of being! Likewise, after a bump or fall, kids will often look straight at you, to gauge your reaction before responding to the pain themselves. It’s quite incredible but if you just pretend you are doing something else, they so often just get on with it, without so much as a peep! Perhaps a rub on the head with a little hand and on you go! I’m serious, it really works and from quite a young age too.
Obviously, if your child cries, you automatically come to his aid as any mother should. There’s nothing quite like a good cuddle when you’re sore. But what I am trying to get across is that kids will often react to an accident, not because it’s painful, but because it’s an accident and they are so used to hearing mum’s sharp breath intake that they end up automatically responding to that rather than actual soreness.
Now, there are times when it really is sore and the tears come because of genuine pain and I have 3 ways to deal with this. Each method is suitable for different age groups. From babies until the age of about two or three, after a good cuddle, I actually resort to punishing the offending object. This means that you will find yourself giving the wall a jolly good spanking. It induces laughter, (probably because it is so ridiculous), and therefore distracts the mind from pain just long enough for it to disappear entirely. I’ve used this method on both my kids and it has worked like a charm every time. My mother-in-law’s invention. Thanks Barbara!
From the age of three until eight or nine. I use a method used on me and my siblings by my late father. He would simply tell us to hold or rub the sore spot and count to ten. 1-crocodile, 2-crocodile, 3-crocodile and so on. You have to count ten seconds, you cannot count to ten as quickly as possible otherwise it doesn’t work. I find that this method doesn’t totally distract the mind from the pain but it offers the quickest way of dealing with it and making it disappear. 10 seconds, what could be quicker than that?! You are giving them a very effective way of dealing with the pain themselves. I have been using this method on Jack for over a year now and have just started with Lucy and it is a godsend of a technique. My Dad used to tell us that this is what he used to do in the war when he got badly hurt or wounded. Of course, this little additive makes it all the more effective for Jack and Lucy as it’s been tried, tested and proven by the bravest man in the world!? Thanks Da!
Lastly, from about the age of 10, by now, a child would only start crying from pain for a fairly serious injury. A simple tactic that was taught to me also, by my Dad was that if you find your child has a nasty injury, especially in the case of lots of blood, you should cover it from his sight.
For instance, when were were kids, a friend of ours deeply sliced his leg open on glass table. Dad wrapped the leg in a towel and drew the youngsters attention from the leg to his face where he could then instruct him on breathing deeply, drinking sugar water etc. In a situation like that, introducing calm is critical, so covering up the wound would be the first and obvious step. My experience of this sort of injury has only happened in places where my kids couldn’t see the trauma, (neck and head) and in both instances I was amazed by how well they dealt with it.
In closing, I would ask that you just try these techniques. There is little more convincing than seeing something with your own eyes and you have nothing to lose. They work, beautifully. Please let me know your results.