Parent Tips: Ailments and Frets

It all started six months ago. All of a sudden, we couldn't get through a day without Sydney (6) saying something hurt. Her throat, her neck, her head, her leg, her foot, her ear, her stomach. You name a body part, it's hurt at some point in the last 180 days!

We took her to the doctor and there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with her medically. She sleeps well, eats (well enough), and gets her exercise. So what do we do now? Is she faking it to get attention? Or does she really feel these ailments. And if so, why?

We've tried to be empathetic, instead of dismissive or frustrated. This can be challenging when you hear the words, "Mommy, my tummy hurts," or "Please take my temperature," for the sixteenth time in less than an hour.

We've provided her non-medicinal options that make sense for the situation - rest, massage, ice pack, etc., etc. Those ideas haven't quelled the ailments, or the complaints.

Sydney is a dweller and it is hard to distract her from what's bothering her or turn her attention to the positive. When this first became "a thing," I researched to see if any other parents had the same issue with their young children. I came across a great forum thread with the following suggestions:

  1. Teach the difference between reasonable worry and dwelling - and how to disrupt the dwelling through activity.
  2. Talk to your toddler about the importance of a positive outlook - that believing one is healthy is a great way to stay healthy.
  3. Tell them to write any negative feelings in a journal that you can review together once a week instead of talking about it constantly.
  4. Set time limits around worrying and fretting, letting them know the rest of the time must be spent doing something else.

I'm hoping with our help, Sydney will realize she does have control over her feelings and what she chooses to think about.

And so we've been trying all of the tactics above. Some days it seems to work (especially that journal idea, even though she's never actually written anything down - just the suggestion stops the whining). 

Suddenly, it's summer and I can't remember hearing one complaint in two weeks. Could it be as simple as Sydney wanting to steal away some of our attention because she doesn't get enough of it when school is in session? Or so busy playing she can't be bothered fretting? We'll see. For now, I'll relish the break from the ailments, and the complaints about them.