When your child is in pain, it’s easy to focus in on the three things that worry us: pain, pills, and homework. I know for myself, just seeing my son’s face triggers that mental checklist.
As parent, I’ve got to say, Guilty As Charged.
Though questions about those issues- did you take your meds? how’s the homework? how are you doing – jump to my tongue when I see my son, they are NOT the best way to start a conversation.
In fact, they’re probably the WORST way to start a conversation with my son. Studies show that when you’re asked about pain, you do a fast body check. What hurts? And something almost ALWAYS hurts. Specialists in pain rehabilitation recommend we don’t ask those living with chronic pain about their pain. It makes things worse, not better.
One of things I needed to train myself to do as my son started taking back his life was to ask about other areas of his life. What videogame is he playing? Did he stop at the bakery when he went for a walk? Is his girlfriend taking on classes this semester?
Just as he needed to learn not to think about his pain constantly, I needed to learn to think about him as something other than his pain.
How? Here are four short tips on how to begin to open up conversations with teens. From my other blog on Psychology Today.