Kids experience pain. It can be emotional pain, physical pain from illness or injury, mental or relational, and it is often all mixed together. Being a long-term chronic (30+ years) migraine sufferer, I have learned a few things about pain. As a parent, I stumbled upon some insight for helping kids with their pain.
My very active children were frequently involved in physical feats which sometimes resulted in breaks, bruises, stitches and even an occasional regret. There was lots of physical pain. I wrote more about this in “Breaks, Stitches and Concussions” https://dianesergeant.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/breaks-stitches-and-concussions
Any time a child is in pain their parent has a wonderful opportunity to express compassion, mercy and care. If it is a relational issue, then the parent should gently enquire about the nature of the issue and help the child determine if there are things for which he or she is personally responsible and should address. Then help the child to be brave enough and courageous enough to do so. Some relationships are worth the effort and some are not.
Our youngest son had a “friend” in the neighborhood with whom he tried to play and develop a friendship. Effort after effort was made. They wanted to get together. So we mom’s made the arrangements, but their time together was not fun. They could never agree on what to do. Each wanted to be the boss of the other. They would not take turns leading or following. They were equally at fault. It was not a friendship worth keeping.
Our eldest son experienced relationship loss over and over. Between age 7 and 12, he had three best friends each move hundreds of mile away. Each was devastating. Each of these losses was completely beyond his control. Each of these losses was very painful.
One of our sons was absolutely appalled at the sight of himself when he had chicken pox. It was more disturbing to him than the discomfort. He was ten years old at the time. He required much comforting.
The entrance to adolescence opens a Pandora’s Box of emotions. As a mom, I was not ready for this, as it hit earlier than I expected. Also my adolescent experience was limited to the female gender and I had no idea what to expect with those male aliens in my house.
Here are some of the lessons I learned through various pain issues with my children:
- Acknowledge the pain is real and don’t minimize it – be merciful
- At the same time, help them understand that this is not a new permanent existence- give hope
- Help them get a grasp on the enormity of (or more realistically the lack there of ) the issue- be realistic
- Adolescents excel at exaggeration and blowing things out of proportion – be genuine
- Discern how much comfort or how much prodding is needed in each situation – be truthful
- Considering the child’s nature, be available to talk and listen as much or a little as is needed- be accessible
- Some children want to converse late at night, some in the early morning and some all day. (we had them all) – be kind
- Some children will want to vent/talk at the time of the incident and others will wait and wait and wait before they are ready. – be patient
- Share your own similar experience, how it affected you and what you did that was successful or failed – give empathy
- Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know the answers. Perhaps together an answer can be found. Be willing to pray with your child for the answer – be vulnerable
I once asked the Lord, why He would give me such a sensitive child, when He knew I was not a sensitive person. The answer He gently dropped into my heart was, “That’s why you need him. “