I’ve written before about how sometimes a well-placed plaster makes all the difference to Mini at times.
You might remember that Mini is not good at letting us know when he’s got a real, genuine, full-on painful problem. But he’ll often wail for an hour after bumping his head on a cushion, scream if he drops a toy on his foot, or cry for an age after falling over. Plasters have allowed me to acknowledge the ‘hurt’, whilst not dwelling on the (lack of) pain. We’ve done that automatic thing of brushing the ‘hurt’ aside, so as to make it hurt less, that many parents do, and indeed something I remember my parents doing with me too.
Now I’ve learnt more about attachment and trauma, I understand that Mini isn’t really hurting physically when he does these things. But he’s hurting on the inside, and crying out for a cuddle, or attention, or love. Brushing it aside is brushing his feelings to one side too. It says ‘Mummy doesn’t care that I’m hurting, it’s not important to her’ and ‘I’m silly for feeling like this because daddy isn’t interested’. That of course isn’t true, but that’s how it feels to Mini when we don’t look at what he really means when he tells us something.
At my recent Theraplay course, I learnt about noticing the hurts (even just tiny scratches or bruises) and using them as opportunities to rub moisturiser (or magic cream as we call it here) into those areas. This enables touch which is vital to connecting with our children and reinforcing our relationship. In the first edition of the Theraplay book, Ann Jernberg talked about how we should ‘Take every opportunity to make physical contact with the child’. And Field (1993) said ‘Physical touch can relieve stress, decrease anxiety and depression and increase comfort’.
Mini lets me do this sometimes when he’s really up for touch. On occasion he enjoys a weather massage. Recently, he’s even begun to touch me – stroke my face, or my arm, which is really positive. But other times, when he’s feeling a bit sensitive, the touch is too much for him. Sometimes even a tap on the elbow to try to get eye contact is too much. On these occasions, Mini will quickly spiral into a meltdown.
So anyway, plasters. I’m not sure the therapists would agree with me that this is useful, but I see this as a compromise, and certainly a step in the right direction. It’s a way of me showing Mini that I’m accepting his ‘hurt’, appreciating that it must hurt, but also acknowledging that he doesn’t necessarily need or want cuddles, kisses or any other form of physical affection. I tell him that I love him, and I put a plaster on his ‘hurt’. It’s one thing saying ‘I love you’, but I’m following it up with a plaster that proves to him that I really do love him and I’m looking after him.
So I now own a variety of plasters – with bugs on, monkeys on, zips on, blood and guts on, see-through, waterproof, coloured, fabric, Pooh bear on, Mr Bump on, big ones, little ones, teeny tiny ones, huuuuuge ones.
How do your children react to ‘hurts’? Do they tell you or hide them? Would a plaster help…I’ve probably got one to suit!