dealing with an overly emotional child w/ regard to bumps and bruises - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-02-2009, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is my DD to a T. This morning we were tossing a football back and forth literally 2 feet away from each other. I tossed her the ball and it bumped her upper lip, very lightly bumped. There is no mark, no redness, nothing. She has been screaming and crying and carrying on over it for 10 mins now. This is how she reacts to every hurt. I see other kids get up and shrug minor injuries off, but not her. God forbid she actually gets a scrape or cut we usually have to leave wherever we are (park, friends house, etc) because she gets so upset and carries on for so long - upwards of half an hour.

I don't know how to deal with it. Right now her screaming is sending me through the roof. I just can't take it right now. She is FINE. Just shut up already!!!

I always empathize with her, give her time, offer her things to make it feel better (ice, etc) which she always refuses. After a while we tell it won't hurt soon, she'll feel better soon, etc. After a ridiculously long time we tell she IS fine. She argues with us that she is NOT fine.

Luckily she rarely gets hurt. No bad scrapes or cuts, no goose eggs, etc. I think she has only needed like 5 bandaids in her life.

How do others deal with this?

Mom to Morgan 4-3-06 and announcing Baby Kelsey 4-11-10
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Old 11-02-2009, 12:25 PM
 
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I also validate my sons feelings and let him know the pain will pass.

I sometimes wonder if theres an underlying need for some one on one attention invovled if it carries on like that. Some children are just very sensitive though. We all have different pain thresholds.

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Old 11-02-2009, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I do the same, validate her feelings, let her know she will feel better soon, etc. Now this incident is coloring our whole morning. Today is our last music class, we were going to go to the park after, then lunch with DH. Now she doesn't want to do any of it. She says she is too sad because her lip still hurts. I am feeling very upset about the whole thing myself now. I can here her now breaking down into tears again....what is going on with this child today?

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Old 11-02-2009, 01:44 PM
 
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My DD has started doing this recently with minor injuries/bumps/scrapes. She used to barely react to even the hardest bumps. Now she cries and cries at the slightest ones. The boys went through this in the past, too.

I do validate the pain that they feel, but I also gently tell them that calming down will help them feel better. I just had to do this with DD a little bit ago when I accidentally bumped her ankle with the baby gate as I was closing it(oops, bad mommy!). I rubbed it a bit and hugged her. Her crying escalated, and I just talked to her in a soothing voice, reminding her that calming down will help it hurt less. Then I asked her if she wanted to go sit down for a bit and rest it, which she did. Her escalated crying didn't last very long this time.

No matter what the injury, I always try to calm the kids down and remind them that staying as calm as possible helps the pain. Softer crying is much less taxing than the hysterical sobs that they can get worked up into sometimes.

They also remember that calming down helps, once I remind them, so it makes it easier for them to do so...they know that I'm telling the truth and that it does help.
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Old 11-02-2009, 01:57 PM
 
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As frustrating as it is, I think you need to believe her that it hurts. She clearly needs your support to process the sensation and move on.

I have a sometimes ridiculously sensitive child. I focus on changing my reaction to her behavior. It really helps. When I get into a rut of being annoyed with her overly dramatic reactions to things, I try to take a step back and work on calming myself. I go take a break by hiding in the bathroom for 10 minutes, I eat/drink something, play a quick game on my iPhone, etc... Then when I come back I try to see what's going on from my DD's point of view.

Almost every period of dramatic behavior has been resolved by taking time to refocus.

It also helps to take a day or two to just relax. We call them stay home and do nothing days. It's nice to have a day with no schedule, no commitments, no agenda.

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Old 11-02-2009, 03:29 PM
 
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I always tried not to react to any falls with my kids when they were very little so not much makes them cry now. But if either of them really cries over a fall or bump I validate them and then try to distract at all costs. Something like "Oh that hurts, are you OK?"
"Can you wiggle your fingers? Can you wiggle your toes? Can you touch your nose? Can you still hop?" ect. I usually ask this type of question very seriously and by the time they have gone through the motions they have forgoten the bump. Also at a party or something I ask is it painfull enough for you to miss the birthday cake. Or not have desert because you are recovering. I try not to reward the behaviour or make a fuss ie give a chocolate for distracting because this only makes the behaviour more common.

In the case of something obviously painfull of course all sympathy and cuddles are free flowing. Still distraction is usefull.
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Old 11-02-2009, 04:39 PM
 
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It sounds like she is more sensitive to the pain/surprise/etc. for sure. Also, she may be using a minor hurt in the company of a loving parent as a way to get out other hurt feelings she's been holding in. That may explain the additional carrying on even though with super sensitivity she really isn't hurting anymore most likely. I know this is something I did as a kid (and still occasionally do now), hold in hurt feelings from the day at school and then something small would set off a bunch of tears that seemed like overreacting to my parents, but those feelings finally just boiled over at that point.

I'm almost done reading Playful Parenting, and one suggestion the author had was to ask the child to retell the story of how they were hurt or retell it yourself if they can't. That helps them relive it and make it less scary/hurtful/etc. and get all the emotions out. Anyway, just another perspective, I'm sure it is very frustrating as a parent, I know I used to get frustrated with my own "overreacting".

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Old 11-02-2009, 05:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So our morning got better....she did get over it and we did get out to our activities, albeit a bit late.....I think most of the time it is the surprise more than the pain that gets her. I've done the playful parenting thing, I always validate - aka "wow you fell down huh? That really hurts doesn't it? Tell me where it hurts, you feel better soon. Can I kiss it or get you ice?" Distracting her never works, she is always "too sad" to do xy or z because it hurts. We have had a couple of down "stay home" days recently - yesterday being one of them. She actually hates it when we stay home all day, one of the first questions she asks every morning is "where are we going today?"

I don't know why it is bothering me so much lately, maybe something to do with pregnancy hormones...who knows? I think she is actually getting a cold which could help explain this morning's reactions...

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Old 11-02-2009, 05:36 PM
 
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The Highly Sensitive Child http://www.hsperson.com/pages/child.htm

The Out of Sync Child http://www.out-of-sync-child.com/
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Old 11-02-2009, 06:30 PM
 
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I'll follow this thread with interest. Although my DS is not this way (yet!) my godson is and I have to say it drives me crazy. When we're out in public and he get hurts he acts so dramatically that people gather round all concerned but it's only a little bump. He'll curl up in a ball on the ground screaming or run away if you try to comfort him. He's older though. I really hope DS doesn't get that way. I also get annoyed at adults when they make a fuss over their little injuries so I guess I need to work on myself and figure out why I find it so irritating.

I'm not totally heartless. I'm very sympathetic to serious illness or injury but I think it's the hypochondriac tendency that drives me batty.
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Old 11-02-2009, 06:38 PM
 
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After a quick check to make sure they are not really hurt.... move onto something else. And another poster said... not ignoring but not over-reacting either.
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Old 11-02-2009, 06:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by cloe View Post
I always tried not to react to any falls with my kids when they were very little so not much makes them cry now.
We do this, too. Anytime a fall/bump/injury happens, we are casual and calm in our reactions. Never fails, though...each child has gone through a time where they "over-react" to a minor bump/scrape. LOL
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Old 11-02-2009, 06:55 PM
 
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I'll follow this thread with interest. Although my DS is not this way (yet!) my godson is and I have to say it drives me crazy. When we're out in public and he get hurts he acts so dramatically that people gather round all concerned but it's only a little bump. He'll curl up in a ball on the ground screaming or run away if you try to comfort him. He's older though. I really hope DS doesn't get that way. I also get annoyed at adults when they make a fuss over their little injuries so I guess I need to work on myself and figure out why I find it so irritating.

I'm not totally heartless. I'm very sympathetic to serious illness or injury but I think it's the hypochondriac tendency that drives me batty.

I agree, when something happens to my DD's I try to guard my inital reaction. Because sometimes I see some bad bump or fall as it is happening and cannot stop it in time. I don't want to be "OH MY GOSH!" everytime something happens. Because I believe they will reflect that attitude. Of course validation and cuddles are always in order but usually if it is a little bump and I can handle my first reaction they usually respond the same. It was an uh oh, or owie and momy kisses and makes better and we move on. Of course if it is more serious we take as much time as needed to get over the pain or hurt. DDs don't typiclly carry on for prolonged periods of time. But of course we all have bad days and DD1 wears her heart on her sleeve so if she is particularly senstive then almost anything will send her into tears. That and if she has not gotten enough sleep.

I am with you on the whole hypocondriac thing! I know people who at every sneeze or cut is hospitalized and cant walk for months. It is frustrating and sometimes I wonder if they arent raising their kids to be terribly dramatic about every little hurt or discomfort too. I have wittnessed many meltdowns for hours over a bump. It is that desire to have attention focused on them and I think it detremental to kids who see that negative perspective on getting attention from others.

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Old 11-02-2009, 07:20 PM
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I'll follow this thread with interest. Although my DS is not this way (yet!) my godson is and I have to say it drives me crazy. When we're out in public and he get hurts he acts so dramatically that people gather round all concerned but it's only a little bump. He'll curl up in a ball on the ground screaming or run away if you try to comfort him. He's older though. I really hope DS doesn't get that way. I also get annoyed at adults when they make a fuss over their little injuries so I guess I need to work on myself and figure out why I find it so irritating.

I'm not totally heartless. I'm very sympathetic to serious illness or injury but I think it's the hypochondriac tendency that drives me batty.
I understand where you're coming from, but please understand that your experience of pain is not the same as everyone else's. I'm not talking about pain threshold, but there are people whose brains actually tell them that they are more hurt than they are, and they feel more hurt than they actually are.

OP, it sounds like either she does not like being surprised, or maybe she doesn't like feeling like the something was done to her that she can't control. She is 3, right? I read somewhere that that is the age that they realize that their bodies can be damaged, so being hurt is very scary to them

You could try helping her figure out some ways to make herself feel better, instead of offering to fix it for her, like things you do when you get hurt, like jump up and down or yell, or take deep breaths and say calming things, or try to think about something else. I don't know how age appropriate it is, but you could explain why your body hurts and how it goes away quicker when we calm down about it.

GL. I have a sensitive little guy too.
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Old 11-02-2009, 07:22 PM
 
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I'd just add: You might benefit from reading Elaine Aron's The Highly Sensitive Child.

Really, she's not doing this to drive you crazy, though it might feel like it.

With my highly sensitive child (children, actually, both are, but only one is highly sensitive to pain), I do what others have suggested: offer a 'remedy' (ice or a bandaid - bandaids have magical healing powers, as far as I can tell), a hug, validation, and a cuddle as long as she wants it (or until I need to go to the bathroom, whichever comes first). It's crucial here to simply let her be sad.

Then, however, I move on. My validation gets more and more matter-of-fact. If she doesn't want to do something because 'it hurts', I'll bring ice and go anyway.

I also have worked with my kids on different words for some of the emotions related to unexpected things happening. We introduced the word 'surprised' very early with both of my kids because they interpreted 'surprised' as 'scared'. Ds (my highly sensitive kid who is prone to anxiety) was perhaps the only child I knew who knew "surprised" "startled" and "scared" at 2 1/2. Understanding these different words helped him categorize his reactions. So, I could say things like "Wow, that really startled you. You weren't expecting that. Did it make your heart beat fast?" "OK, let's take some deep breaths to help us calm down."

Highly emotional kids do need someone else to serve as their emotional anchor. As annoying as it is for dd to be wailing about some minor upset (emotional or physical), if I keep my reaction in proportion, that gives her a sense of security and helps her (eventually, after a number of years) learn to regulate her own emotions. One of my friends described this as being the tree in the midst of her children's storms. Alas, I can't always do that. If my own reserves are down, then dd and I feed off each other.

Don't discount the effects of being hungry, overtired and/or overstimulated on your daughter's ability to regulate her emotions. Driving to school this morning, dd was upset by (a) the fact that her brother had jumped in her leaf pile and so it no longer looked like it had the day before, (b) the fact that she hadn't scored any goals during soccer season (it would help, hon, if you didn't close your eyes each time the ball came near to you), (c) the fact that her brother got 10 minutes more of 'momma time' than she did yesterday (she was busy watching tv during this time), and (d) the fact that she'd only had one waffle for breakfast, and if she didn't like the snack at school, she'd have to be hungry all the way until lunch (she'd been too busy playing computer games to remember to eat).

Why was all of this an issue? Because we had an incredibly busy weekend and she was TIRED. We don't normally schedule that many things at once, but we had a rash of one-time things pile up on one weekend (including Halloween and Trick-or-Treating). So, not only was dd overtired, her diet has been full of sugar, and she's been overstimulated.

I'm expecting about a week of needier than usual, more easy to upset than usual behavior before we're back to normal. It'll take that long to destress and catch up on sleep. Dd LOVES going places (she is an extrovert), but we will stay closer to home for a few days (except for school).

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Old 11-02-2009, 07:41 PM
 
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See I think you might be reacting pretty seriously. I would never offer ice for a small bump and i'm trying to even think if I ever have in my 5 year old's life. I also wouldn't say that really hurt didn't it. It seems like it is encouraging the reaction.

I tend to say Whoops! come on dust yourself off lets go. If the whining continues then say oh you are so hurt we had better go home and spend the rest of the day in bed recovering. If she finds bed and home boring she will soon learn that it is better for her not to overact.
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Old 11-02-2009, 07:56 PM
 
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See I think you might be reacting pretty seriously. I would never offer ice for a small bump and i'm trying to even think if I ever have in my 5 year old's life. I also wouldn't say that really hurt didn't it. It seems like it is encouraging the reaction.

I tend to say Whoops! come on dust yourself off lets go. If the whining continues then say oh you are so hurt we had better go home and spend the rest of the day in bed recovering. If she finds bed and home boring she will soon learn that it is better for her not to overact.
Agreed

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Old 11-02-2009, 08:44 PM
 
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I have a student who does this. When one of them falls or takes a tumble I never overreact. I usually say "Uh oh, we had a wipe out! Are you okay?" and then take it from there. For the child who gets really upset I validate him, check the area, offer ice or a bandaid, etc. I never try and make him feel bad about it or encourage him to be "tough" or whatnot like I have heard others do. I realize that to him it might hurt a lot worse, you can never know when it is not you feeling the pain.

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Old 11-02-2009, 08:52 PM
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I tend to say Whoops! come on dust yourself off lets go. If the whining continues then say oh you are so hurt we had better go home and spend the rest of the day in bed recovering. If she finds bed and home boring she will soon learn that it is better for her not to overact.
I'm sorry, but this sounds so snarky to me. I can't think of any way of saying this without making the child feel as though they have to choose between feeling their (very real) feelings and whatever activity they are doing. "Buck up or miss out" doesn't sound like a good way to get over feeling hurt.

I guess unless you have made being injured a huge deal from the get go, I can't think that a child crying from pain could be considered "over reacting". Even if they are hurt about something else (i.e., she is tired/hungry, or she is upset about something that happened previously and those feelings are coming out about the hurt), those feelings still need to be treated as real.
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Old 11-02-2009, 09:58 PM
 
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I'm sorry, but this sounds so snarky to me. I can't think of any way of saying this without making the child feel as though they have to choose between feeling their (very real) feelings and whatever activity they are doing. "Buck up or miss out" doesn't sound like a good way to get over feeling hurt.

I guess unless you have made being injured a huge deal from the get go, I can't think that a child crying from pain could be considered "over reacting". Even if they are hurt about something else (i.e., she is tired/hungry, or she is upset about something that happened previously and those feelings are coming out about the hurt), those feelings still need to be treated as real.


It's very easy to say "Oh, I just dust them off and move one" if one has a child who allows him/herself to be dusted off and moved on. I've got one of those. It's great.

But for the parent of a child who is highly sensitive to pain and physical discomfort (as well as to emotional distress), this does.not.work. All it does is make my child feel rejected.

I do not overreact to my child's minor bumps and bruises. (She's my 2nd, my first is a bit underresponsive to pain, so I learned to be a be laissez faire about minor falls and scrapes.) I only started offering ice to minor bumps to my sensitive child when I realized that having something to hold made her feel emotionally better.

I DO move on eventually. But really, everyone is much happier if we comfort, validate and attend to the hurt child. As she gets older (nearing 5.5 now), she's much better at dusting herself off and moving on. Meeting her (mostly emotional) needs concerning pain helps her be able to do this.

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Old 11-02-2009, 11:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I requested the book from the library. Like others have said it is just her. I have never overreacted to her falling/getting hurt. I always wait to see what her reaction is first. I never do the whole "your fine, your fine" thing when she gets hurt - that drives me nuts. Great to hear that others have kids like mine. I don't know another one IRL.

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Old 11-03-2009, 04:40 AM
 
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Someone up above hit the nail on the head. Some kids do need that extra comfort or they feel rejected. Especially at that age of 3 or 4 and ESPECIALLY if they were doing an activity with mom that hurt them. I think they are just putting together the fact that YOU can hurt them even if it's an accident.

Have you tried putting on your "doctor's hat" after she gets hurt? Depending on her mood it could be a game, or it could be very serious. If she'll allow you to examine the "wound", look at it carefully and tell her if it's red, or a little swollen. Explain what happens when we fall down and bruise. If it's on her lip or face, maybe give her a mirror and have her show you with her finger exactly where it hurts. My kids get so interested in what their body is doing to help them heal, they don't even care about the pain.

Just a suggestion. Good luck!
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Old 11-03-2009, 10:59 AM
 
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It's very easy to say "Oh, I just dust them off and move one" if one has a child who allows him/herself to be dusted off and moved on.
Exactly!

DD used to be impervious to bumps. Never cried ever if she fell. Now she is a drama queen about every litllest bump. It is maddening and brushing her off simply doesn't work.
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