Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sick Days: From Splat to Spunky

Wobbly, wobbly go the rules when my kiddo is sick.  It's the silver lining when a child is so sick to be able to nurture them, pamper them, in ways that would stifle independence when they're well, but say "I love you" when they're sick.  When my child, who usually quivers with energy, asks to be carried upstairs, I've even gone that far.  It was much more trying to see him splatted with a bug when he was younger and didn't understand, but now we sooth and talk about how his body is fighting the viruses or bacteria.  He knows he has a strong body.  He's not worried he'll win.  He knows it just hurts while the body is fighting.

So, when you have a splatted child, assuming we're not talking dangerous illness, I have just a few quick well-tested-times-one ideas to try:
1. Listening to well-known movies instead of watching them
I do have lots of stories / audio books, but the movies seem to work better.  My son doesn't have to keep his eyes open, falls asleep on the couch easier, and can just let the well known scenes play in his mind.  I intersperse this will reading to him too, snuggly moments are a bonus.
2. Offering, but not pushing comforts
Heating pads, warm drinks, whatever snuggly or nourishment might help, but accepting the answers.
3.  Offer hyper-choices
This has been so effective with pulling my cranky kid out of whine-mode.  He's not in control of being sick.  The younger the kid, usually the more irritable they are about it.  Giving them many options for control, can make a huge difference.  It can sound really silly, but it has saved me many an emotional flood as I intervene when the volume, distress, misery is climbing toward a crescendo!
For example, in response to a distraught shriek, followed by sobs, spiraling into more cries of an ouchy throat:
"I hear you're throat hurts.  
Would you like warm water or warm milk?
Would a little honey in it taste good?
Would you like me to put it on the table or this chair?
This side of the napkin or that side?"
With each response, my son would get calmer, the cries (which were making him hurt more) would get less, he was able to control something (if not his throat) and he could take some sips to make it feel a bit better.  Of course, the hugs, the warm tone are there too, but offering the calm choices while not getting pulled into their emotional flood can make sick days so much less parent traumatic with a young kid.

Now, about reclaiming that sick kid once the wobbly rules need to firm up again.  I do allow a bit of an interim process because I certainly know that it takes me awhile to feel 100% better and kids are still learning about how sick bodies / well bodies work.  So, I'll decline carrying upstairs, but offer to hold hands instead. 

They're all better, but still interested in the royal treatment?  I loved this one from the latest cold my kiddo conquered last week (inspiration for this post).
"Mommy, I'm thirsty!" (He's been getting his own drinks for years.)

Sometimes, I favor the noncommittal "Mmmm" recommend in How to Talk So Kids Will Listen.

Sometimes, I use a gentle, "Oh?" or just an acknowledging look with a quiet pause.

But, my current favorite (usually for something a bit more complicated) is a simple, "Ideas?"

When I first starting using it, I would get, "No! You tell me!"  But, my dear six year old has moved on from planning his career as a circus acrobat to being certain that he's going to be an airplane engineer and he knows what jiffy brains airplane engineers need.  (He knows jiffy brains come from thinking practice too).  So, I have been absolutely amazed by how thinking-stimulating saying "ideas?" has been.  He'll actually ponder the response to his demand / statement as a problem that he can have "ideas" to solve.  I think, in this case, he came up with a detailed description of how he was going to get his drink and make it just perfect for his current needs :)  I can just smile and support and I so love this kid!

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