Kids hurt themselves right? How do you know when it’s genuine, and when it’s not? And as a parent, is it your job to minimise the stress and pain that your child feels?
Well, let’s tackle the genuine or not bit first…
When Mini was little, he had accidents. We often put this down to his flat feet which made him slightly clumsier than most toddlers. We spent quite a few hours down at our local A&E, and our out of hours clinic – part of this I think was probably due to us being vaguely neurotic first time parents, checking out every little rash and bump, but mostly due to his genuine pain after bumping his head or discomfort from an incredibly high temperature.
These days, Mini is rarely ill, and never seems to hurt himself. Well, he seems to hurt himself frequently – he ‘fake’ trips over and ‘I’ve hurt myself’, or pretends to bump into the furniture and ‘ouch, it really hurts’. Some of the time Mini is copying Dollop, sometimes he really does trip, but you and I both know that gently tapping your head against a soft sofa cushion does not hurt and slightly bending your finger back does not result in a broken arm as Mini would have you believe. Mini also tends to develop a headache as I’m administering Calpol to his teething sister…he’s very clever, his head hurts exactly when he sees me pick up the bottle!
These fake injuries occur several times a day at least. But Mini is so rarely ill. Just once since September in fact when he was sick on and off for around 24hours, and he had two days off school as a result. Before that, I have no idea when he was last poorly. The only time he ever had off his 2 years at nursery was when he had Chicken Pox! Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased he's not a poorly child, it just seems a bit unusual when his schoolfriends are dropping like flies! And I can’t remember the last time he actually cried with pain. I mean proper tears. On those rare occasions he’s fallen hard, he doesn’t seem to be in pain. He just gets up and carries on.
So what’s genuine? Well, to me there is a certain cry that tells me when he really is in pain, and then of course there are the physical symptoms – bleeding, vomiting and diarrhoea for example. I think I’m pretty good at identifying the genuine times, so why does Mini insist that these little trip-ups are so painful, when they clearly aren’t. Does he think he can fool me? Does he think at all?
Now, to answer the bit about my job…well, I think it is my job to make my son feel better when he’s ill, to minimise the stress and pain, and maximise the comfort and healing process. So on those rare occasions Mini has been ill, I’ve done what I can – I made him the foods he likes (as long as he’s not being sick), and let him eat it on the sofa, I let him watch copious amounts of children’s tv, I pandered to him, and held the sick bucket in the right place! At the same time, I’ve always tried to make Mini feel better when he’s grazed a knee, or something similar by giving it a kiss and rubbing it better, and then pretty much brushing it off and then distracting him, after all, the more you dwell on it, the more it really does hurt!
Are these two questions linked then? Do I make being ill and in pain such a positive experience that Mini pretends to be in pain so I’ll provide the same comfort that he gets when it’s real? Is it the opposite – does Mini not feel ill (or not tell me he’s ill) that often because I’ve just brushed off his previous ailments?
Does Mini have a sensory problem that makes him feel the gentle bumps but not the hard ones? Does he just have a high pain threshold? Or is he just being a contrary 5 year old?
I don’t know the answers, but I do know that an often well-placed plaster can make all the difference whether it’s really needed or not, and hugs, kisses and chocolate cake are medicinal for us all!