Being an all powerful perfect parent protector

Posted by Samantha on March 28, 2011 in Thought for the day |

When we realise that we’re not ever going to stop our children from experiencing suffering and that we wouldn’t want to anyway because that’s how they develop character (see previous blog post), then how do we behave when we’re faced with a child in physical pain?

For starters, we can let go of guilt.  And anger.  Physical injuries happen to kids.  This is normal.   Even if you’re the one who has inadvertently caused an injury you can still let go of your guilt.  Parents sometimes hurt their children by accident.  You are not the first parent to have done this.  You will not be the last.

Remembering this will help you overcome your urge to blame:  your kid, another kid, yourself.

Blaming isn’t necessary.  In fact, it’s unhelpful. 

Blaming your child won’t teach them anything useful at all.  They’ve already learned their lesson the minute the pain seared through them!  And saying something blaming (like “that’ll teach you” or “I told you so”) is likely to damage your relationship with your child and make your life tougher as a result.

What do children need in these situations?  They need physical contact: holding, hugs, kisses, rubs.  Rubbing a pain can actually lessen it physically. 

But the physical touch of a parent provides a lot more that the mere lessening of physical pain.

It shows that you still love them even though they’ve injured themselves, especially if they were doing something forbidden when the injury occurred.  And it models how we are meant to treat people – ourselves included – when they are hurt: we are meant to look after people and treat them gently when they are in pain. 

Soothing words are a great comfort to a child in this situation.  “There, there”, “It’s going to be ok”, “Oh, that must hurt”.  When you say things like this you provide reassurance and you empathise with what your child is going through.  When our children are little we tend to know instinctively that the “kiss it better” routine is required.  In fact, we don’t ever need to give this routine up!

Any talk of not making a fuss and being a cry baby is counter-productive.  You don’t want to force your child’s emotions underground.  Just accept their emotions without shaming or blaming.  The tears will subside; the wailing will stop!  It might take longer than you would like.  But what’s the “right” amount of time to cry after an injury?  I’m pretty certain that there isn’t one.  Leave your child the space they need and they will bounce back in their own time. 

You’ll start to find that you can be so helpful in these situations that you won’t be fearful of them anymore. 

You won’t feel powerless anymore either: when you provide the comfort your child needs, in their eyes, for that moment, you will be the All Powerful Perfect Parent Protector.  It’s a nice role.  Enjoy it!


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