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Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Reminder: When Your Child Cries. . .

I am writing this entry based on a "lessons learned" incident that happened to me recently, specifically with my 4-year old niece.

Children, being the the little awkward bundles of energy and curiosity that they are, will regularly go thru this stage in their lives with a lot of little mishaps. If your child is naturally active, he or she will at least have one fall, bump, slide, trip, graze or nick a day. When they do get into one of these scrapes, they do what naturally comes to them; crying. They cry, whine and moan in decibel-piercing levels to attract attention that something went bad with them. It's natural---instinctual actually---that as parents or responsible adults we rush to tend to them when they have one of those little "arays" (ouchies).

There are times though when we tend to get somewhat annoyed by their whining and crying that we, consciously or not, "tune out" their pleas and regard it with little concern as the latest in a long line of minor injuries. This is also the case for the times when life gets in the way for more immediate things making us more unmindful of their crying.

This is where the concern lies. When we dismiss offhand their admittedly annoying crying, we may not be fully aware of how hurt they really are. As crying maybe the only thing they're capable of to signal something happened, we should pay attention to how he or she cries or even the lack of crying itself as an indicator of their true condition.

Caring for your child when she has these small accidents is not unlike caring for fully grown adults, but extra attention should be exercised given that kids don't really know the true extent of their injuries. For all the common daily accidents that they have, I think its worthwhile to remember what evolution has given us, which is the tried and true parenting diagnostic skills of Ask, Assess, and Assure.

Ask - Yes, ask calmly, not interrogate him/her. As a parent, you have to keep in check your tension or emotion from carrying over to your voice as it might frighten or upset the child more. Try to be descriptive in asking where it hurts exactly and how bad it really feels.

Assess - As the child still can not fully express what he/she feels, you will have to carefully feel or touch his or her body with your hands. This means not only concentrating on the injured part since the child might have unseen or secondary injuries that might otherwise be missed. As was mentioned earlier, some kids might suppress their crying for one reason or another (other medical or emotional issues). If your child does not express an immediate crying reaction after a nasty fall or getting a large wound, this might not always be a good thing. It is best to be safe and check nonetheless.

Assure - More than anything, giving the nurturing assurance that everything will be all right is an essential part of treatment. It will also get them to be more cooperative when you treat the injury.

Keep everyone in your family safe, especially those cute little ones!

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