Helping a 5-Year-Old Cope With Pain

Linda Sharps
Big Kid
16
My oldest son is going to be 5 in a couple of weeks, and for the most part, he is great fun to be around. He's goofy, chatty, and endlessly curious about anything and everything under the sun. Including, actually, the sun itself. ("You can't look at the sun because your eyeballs will get burned and fall out of your head and then you won't be able to see because you won't have any eyeballs. Right, Mom?")

He does have this ... thing, though, that I've started to worry about a little.

It's the way he reacts to getting hurt. I'm not talking about seriously painful injuries, because—knock on wood—we haven't had any of those. I'm referring to the run of the mill kid stuff that happens every day: scuffed knees, scraped elbows, that kind of thing.

Basically, when he gets a boo-boo, he totally loses his mind. I mean, it's epic. Absolutely wall-shattering screaming, howling, shrieking "NO! NO! NO!" over and over, throwing himself on the floor ... and on and on. It's the kind of reaction you'd expect from a child who has a live alligator clamped to their ass. It's so over the top I don't even really know how to describe it, except to say that he seems 100 percent out of control, like his entire nervous system is lighting up at once.

During these episodes he won't accept any comfort whatsoever, and after a period of time, we usually try and leave him be until he can regain himself. Sometimes I even send him to his room to go work it out in private, but I'll admit I don't do that because I necessarily think it's the right thing to do—it's more out of a desire to get the noise and insanity away from me. 

So, my question to you is, have any of you noticed this kind of drama with your child? He's incredibly (and ironically) noise sensitive and super-picky about foods, so I suspect he's got some low-key sensory issues, and I wonder if that has anything to do with his reaction to pain. Is it at all possible he feels pain on a different level than other kids? And is there anything I can do to help him develop coping skills in this area? I worry more and more about other kids seeing him get hurt at school, and what kind of teasing might come from that. Also, it makes it impossible to tell when he's really hurt—for example, we came thisclose to rushing him to the ER the other night, over what appeared to be an EYELASH in his eye.

I plan to bring it up at our next pediatric appointment, but in the meantime, I'd love to hear from you guys on this. Ideas, advice, commiseration, it's all welcome!

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