How To Help When Your Child’s in Pain: Listen

When my child’s in pain, my first instinct is to try to fix it. That’s my job right?

But it’s not always what they need.

  • Sometimes they need to vent and blow off steam. This is hard for us. It’s worse for them. If we jump in too fast we’re not giving them permission to vent. Burying negative emotions makes it worse.
  • Sometimes, what you think they need and what they really need may be different. We’ve all been given a present where the person thought they were giving us just what we wanted. But it wasn’t. Listen first.

Jumping in to do something for your child communicates that you don’t think they can do things for themselves.

Now, sometimes they need help and your picking up the slack is EXACTLY what they want.

But if you jump in before they need you, they become more dependent over time. And that’s not good for them. It’s not good for you. It’s not good for your relationship.

“Scaffolding” is what they call it when you provide just enough help that they can go a bit further than they could on their own – so they build new skills. But not so much help that when the scaffolding is gone, the tower collapses.

The hard job of parents is to help their kids grow into autonomous adults. That means helping them teaching them what they should do.

It also means LETTING them do what they need to do. Even if sometimes that means letting them fail.

Chicks don’t learn to spread their wings until they get out of that protective shell.

Optimal development occurs when there is a balance of challenge and support. Finding that balance is hard. I’ve certainly had times when I coddled my kids too much. Or pushed them too hard.

That’s why watching and listening to YOUR child is important.

What they need today is different from what they needed last year. Or yesterday. Or tomorrow.

That’s what sensitive parenting is.

I’m parent of a teen living with chronic pain and a developmental psychologist who studies parent-adolescent relationships.

I still found it so hard sometimes to keep my eye on my whole child and see more than his pain, his pills, and his problems.

1step2life was designed with a Caregiver mode to remind me to be a good coach and to see my son as the whole person he is.

Check out the 1step2life app!

Start where you are. Set your own goals. Take back your life. A tool for tracking goals, emotions, and success, not just logging pain. And the only app that has a mode specifically for parents, partners, and other carers that supports effective coaching and strong relationships.

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3 responses to “How To Help When Your Child’s in Pain: Listen”

  1. Challenge, Support, & Love - 1step2life Avatar

    […] Scaffolding provides kids with just enough support. When parents scaffold, they are there when their child needs help. And they let the child do for themselves when they don’t. […]

  2. Supporting Parent of Kids In Pain - 1step2life Avatar

    […] I should be doing more listening and less nagging. Kids talk when parents listen, because it builds trust and they are willing to […]

  3. Balancing Challenge & Support - 1step2life Avatar

    […] to feel SAFE and unjudged (remember that unconditional positive regard). Last week I wrote about listening, and it’s an important skill. It’s also important to quiet our own emotions – […]

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