My 5 year old got a bloody nose during a ball game a month ago. He wasn’t seriously hurt and was most upset by all the blood (there was a lot). But he bounced back very quickly once he got cleaned up. He wasn’t fearful at all to play again. Since that time though, if he falls or hurts himself in anyway (recently, a tiny scratch) he becomes hysterical. He doesn’t want to move or look at where he’s scraped himself. I believe he is terrified of the possibility of a bloody injury. How can I reassure him?
Dear Concerned Mom,
Go to the library and get some age appropriate books on the body. Be sure to get some that cover the vascular system and the function of bleeding when injured. Read them with your son. Share times when you or another family member were injured and what it was like for you. If you know any health practitioners ask lots of questions. More knowledge will help.
Play “What if?” games to talk about how you will react when (not if) he injures himself and review options he has in his reactions. Role play.
Talk about your observations and concerns, “I’ve noticed that since you got that bloody nose you seem to get pretty upset when you hurt yourself. I’d like to understand what is going on for you. Can you tell me more about it?” Although he may not reply the first time, you will have planted the seeds for him to start thinking about it and more conversation is likely in the future. If he really can’t tell you about it, show confidence, “Well I’m sure that you can work it out on your own then, I’ll just wait for you to let me know if you need or want any help.”