Pain is an unpleasant feeling that can be caused by physical injury or illness. The term pain can also be used to refer to emotional or psychological distress.
In life, we all deal with pain. In children, it can highlight injury or illness. It also guides as a warning signal for children as they learn to avoid danger for fear of pain. Pain in children must be explored and treated. Untreated pain can be detrimental to a child’s well-being and can cause depression and anxiety, fatigue and interfere with sleeping and eating. Pain that is not taken care of can result in a child feeling afraid and slow down healing, in addition to causing additional medical issues.
Only your child will know how painful something is and should be encouraged to talk about pain in ways they understand. For example, they can tell you how bad the pain feels on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being okay and very little pain and 10 being the worst pain they could imagine.
If your child is dealing with pain, here are some simple ways to help them manage it:
- Children are more relaxed and feel more secure when they have a parent or special person with them. Studies have found that we can deal with pain if we have people we know with us. (Jay Weiss – Rockefeller University)
- You can help your child to ask questions and talk about how they feel. Labelling their feelings allows them to explore and work through them.
- Give accurate information within your child’s understanding, taking care not to distress your child unnecessarily. Reassure often.
- Give your child some autonomy over their body or treatment by asking them where they would like to sit or stand for injections or examinations etc.
- Show them how to take slow, deep breaths. This can give the child some control over their body and can help to reduce pain.
- Engage your child’s imagination and engage them in recalling pleasant memories or reading their favourite story.
- Distraction can work wonders, even more so if there is silliness involved. Being silly and involving laughter helps a child to relax and forget their pain for a short while.
- Cuddling, holding, and other forms of comforting touch can also reduce the experience of pain.
- Be reassuring and let your child know that they are doing great. Being positive and letting your child know that everything will be okay can help your child relax.
Although not all pain can be eliminated, almost all pain can be reduced. If you would like further support, we are here for you.