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Cher, Teacher
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 21333
Experience:  Extensive Experience working with Children/Teens; M.A. Teacher/Tutor 40+ yrs.; Parent of 2
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Hi, I am looking for some advice on how to handle a 5 yr old

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Hi, I am looking for some advice on how to handle a 5 yr old boy who is hypersensitive to pain. For instance he fell and scraped his knee - yes, no doubt it hurt but he proceeded to loudly cry out for almost 45 min. My husband is of the opinion that it is attention getting only and tells him to stop. This does not work.
I try to tell him that i am sure that it hurt but he is okay and try to help him cope with the pain. This does not work either.
I am not sure if we should ignore or discuss - but we as parents get annoyed (not intentionally) with the high pitched cry and scream
Thank you



Tough case. We have 5 children and we have always purposefully downplay injuries just for this very reason. We have sometimes been criticized for being too cavalier. But our oldest (who is now 17) has always been a drama queen; so we made sure the others did not follow.


I don't think that reasoning with the child or telling him to stop during one of these episode is going to work very well. I may start with attention getting, but evolves into a power play between child and parent. The parent always seem to lose that battle. We have learned that distracting their attention away from the power play helps. For our little ones who are crying bloody murder, we always say something like, "I'm getting some ice cream, do you want some?" That seems to always stops the tirade. I know that this is bribery in a covert way, but it tends to work. Distracting them seems to work for other power play scenarios too.


After the child is calm, then you can reason and explain to them about how to appropriately display their discomfort.


Hope this helps and thank you.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you for your help. We do use that technique at times - but we really try to avoid the candy/food bribe. Other things do not really get his attention. Like asking him to help water the flowers, move the sprinkler, etc - no luck.
He is also very sensitive to things like warm oatmeal - like yelling ouch - too hot (when it is merely warm)
or he says that the tag on his shirt hurts him.
any thought about hyperesthesia - I think that is the term!?!



Sensory abnormalities can be very difficult to diagnose. The incidence of hyperesthesia is not known. There really aren't good "normal" values for different age groups in terms of testing hyperesthesia. Many are doing relative testing. That is, they test both sides of the body and measure against each other. Each body part is measured compared to the exact opposite body part (and area). Measurements are made based on threshholds for pressure, warm, and cold. It turns out that this relative method is the best for measuring hyperesthesia. This would be done by a neurologist or pain specialist.


Treatments for hyperesthesia include analgesics, antidepressants and anticonvulsants.


Do you think that his episodes are real or a put-on? Have you noticed if his apparend excessive complaints occur on only one side of the body?


If you think that this is a possibility, it would not hurt to look into testing.


Hope this helps and thank you.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I don't think I can tell if his pain is real or made up. I can tell you that when he scraped his knee - it certainly seemed as if he had real pain. He seemed to think that the bandaids caused increased pain and refused to move. He does not appear to have any side to side differences. Since this is not causing any real problems I don't think medication/testing is in order.

My personal take on it is that he experiences pain more acutely and is more psychologically disturbed by pain. I don't really want to tell him that he is fine and nothing is wrong = I worry about him thinking that we are not listening to him and minimizing his feeling. I also hate to give him lots of attention for this behavior as well.

Just for your information I orginally posted this under parenting, because I think that this is a parenting issue not really a medical issue, someone transfered it. thank you



I agree with you. I don't think testing is needed either. I mentioned it since you asked about the hyperesthesia angle.


I'll opt out and transfer it back to the parenting category.


Good luck and thank you.

Sorry, I can't change category for you since I am only on stage I. Hopefully, a stage 4 Health Expert can change this question back to Parenting for you.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
All you have to do is notifiy the moderator and they can do that for you (I am stage 4 in veterinary medicine)

I know about dogs and cats -- not kids!! thank you

I just reported it to the Mods.


Again, good luck


I agree with your initial statement, that your son may be hypersensitive to pain and to hot and cold, re: the warm oatmeal that he said was too hot, and it 'hurt'. All the things you've mentioned trying already, in addition to Dr. Chan's suggestions. were excellent.
Re: the warm oatmeal that is TOO hot, use a small portable table fan or handheld fan (you know those colorful fun ones for summer, which fit on a keychain etc.), to cool it off for him. In this way, you're validating his feelings that it's too hot, and offering a fun remedy--turn the fan so it blows his hair, etc., every so often, so he laughs.

I think this is a 'combination' reaction in your son, where yes, he IS using his injury as an attention getter, but if he is more sensitive than the average child, it really may take longer for the pain to begin to subside. It's interesting that he said the band-aid was hurting too, as many people can be allergic/sensitive to the adhesive on particular band-aids. It also may be 'pinching' the wounded area, even though the 'pad' of the ban-daid is actually contacting it. Try not to put a band-aid on immediately, but spray with Bactine antiseptic and anesthetic spray. The active ingredients are Benzaikonium chloride and lidocaine. Perhaps if the area is numbed, it won't be as painful, and the antiseptic will also clean the wound. There is also a product, whose name escapes me at the moment, but it's like a 'second skin', which you spray on the wound and is flexible, yet keeps out dirt, etc. I think the name has 'skin' in it. It's in the antiseptic/band-aid aisle in the drugstore or supermarket.

Also, did you ever wonder if perhaps the sight of blood, or of his own wound is making your son so hysterical? After cleaning it/spraying it with a product like Bactine, cover it loosely with sterile gauze and paper tape, minimally. Also, you can put something between your son's line of vision and his wound, like you would use a 'drape' during surgery (or like an 'e-collar' type home-made device that is safe. Call it the 'boo boo' collar. If you hold something like a paper plate or towel under his neck, he won't see the scraped knee, AND you're also giving him a job to do, which will be distracting.

Hopefully, he'll outgrow this, but it can't hurt to mention it to your pediatrician at your son's next visit, and mention the hyperesthesia theory.

Continue to try to distract him in various, subtle ways, remain calm, as you've been doing, and downplay the injury, while simultaneously being sympathetic to his pain. Give him something to hold or 'do', while you're applying the antiseptic/bandage and make a 'routine' of it.

Have him help you decorate a 'first aid box', like a small colorful plastic container you can find in a kitchen store, craft store, or dollar store, and apply stickers of his choosing, use colored non-toxic markers, etc. Write 'First Aid' on the lid, write his name, and stock it with a few essentials. So, when he gets hurt, tell him to get the first aid 'box' (or you can get it) and show him all the items you're going to need/use on his boo boo, then have him hand them to you, one by one, and then also put them back in the box; comment on the stickers, his drawings, etc., just draw him into conversation about the decorations you all made on the box, and expand the discussion wherever it may take you. If you're consistent with this, and do it every time, he'll know what to expect and it might distract him so his crying time becomes lessened more and more each time.

The treat/distraction you offer, doesn't necessarily have to be edible. You can keep a box (also decorated --can you tell I like arts and crafts?! : )) of small items, suitable/safe for his age, from the dollar store, etc. like the 'prize' for being a good patient, the kids are given at the pediatrician's office, after their shots/visit.

I hope this helped, and wish you much good luck with the next injury!

Cher, Teacher
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 21333
Experience: Extensive Experience working with Children/Teens; M.A. Teacher/Tutor 40+ yrs.; Parent of 2
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