Kids in Pain

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.Bad Day Bad Life

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.talk to three year old

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.

respond with compassion

Here are some of the lessons I learned through various pain issues with my children:

  1. Acknowledge the pain is real and don’t minimize it – be merciful
  2. At the same time, help them understand that this is not a new permanent existence- give hope
  3. Help them get a grasp on the enormity of (or more realistically the lack there of ) the issue- be realistic
  4. Adolescents excel at exaggeration and blowing things out of proportion – be genuine
  5. Discern how much comfort or how much prodding is needed in each situation – be truthful
  6. Considering the child’s nature, be available to talk and listen as much or a little as is needed- be accessible
  7. Some children want to converse late at night, some in the early morning and some all day. (we had them all) – be kind
  8. 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
  9. Share your own similar experience, how it affected you and what you did that was successful or failed – give empathy
  10. 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. “

 

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Yikes, Lice!

Are you a nitpicker?  Are you afraid of cooties?  Does your head itch?  All of these questions provoke the heebie-jeebies for me. Have you ever had head lice? Were you responsible for exterminating lice from your home?

My children contracted lice a few times. Lice are very social and love to visit the heads of all your friends.  They are also quite powerful in two ways. The first is the potent capacity of their eggs (nits) to stick to strands of hair.  The second is the formidable way that the knowledge of their presence takes control of one’s life.  This was hugely stressful to me because I felt both my home and life were invaded.  And they were.  I had to be offensive and eradicate this enemy.  It had to be addressed immediately before it spread further.

The first time we discovered lice I was totally overwhelmed.  There were not over-the-counter shampoo products available.  I had to take my daughter to our family doctor for a diagnosis and a prescription was written for the entire family to be treated.  Another family was living with us at the time so we had to get enough shampoo for four adults and five children.  To obtain enough quantity I had to make purchases at two pharmacies.  All this was very embarrassing to me, but that was the easiest part of the calamity.

Every head was scrubbed with the smelly shampoo to kill all lice and nits.  Then the cleaning commenced.  Every room in the house had to be cleaned. All flooring, upholstered furniture and mattresses were vacuumed.  All bed linens were bagged and taken to the laundromat to be washed and dried.  Hair brushes, combs, and hair accessories were boiled if possible.  Some perished in the process.  All dolls and stuffed animals and unwashable items that could possibly carry lice were bagged and tagged.  The tag was the date 14 days in the future, when the bag could safely be reopened.  A louse’s lifecycle is very short.   Then the vehicles and car seats had to be cleaned.  In cool weather coats, jackets, and hats needed to be washed also.gingersnap

Next there was further humiliation when I had to inform parents of playmates of possible exposure to lice. Did I have to do this? No, but I thought it was the right thing to do and if we had given it to friends, they might return the favor.   It was best for everyone for them to explore and treat if necessary.

I know that lice turned me into a crazy momma.   I immediately wanted to give haircuts to everyone.  The boys were willing to comply but my daughter didn’t want a buzz cut.

If other parents were not as diligent in treating lice and cleaning their entire house, I thought they were lazy or crazy.   Of course, that opinion was not kind, but it seemed reasonable at the time of my stress and misfortune.

I have learned that the only power a louse (cootie) has is the power I allow it to have in my life. That is a huge life-lesson from a tiny bug and applies to all manner of struggles. Problems come in all sizes and at inconvenient times.  Everyone (children and adults) have different levels of what they can handle well and what sends them over the edge.

Just thinking about lice makes my head itch.  I am thankful for easily obtainable louse and nit killing shampoo.sassy