How to help a child deal with chronic pain.

How to help a child deal with chronic pain.

This article is a bit of an oddball, I originally wrote a guide for adults, but then I realised as an adult you can gain other systems to help you, but as a kid you’re defenceless.

This article isn’t really meant for children, it’s that those of you who are in contact with children and know they’re going through something like this. It’s to give you a few points as to how to help a child deal with chronic pain. So, if your parent of another kid, a teacher, social worker, community support leader etc.

Disclaimer: The only qualification I have to write this article is that I was a kid with chronic pain my parents disregarded time in time again, occasionally they even went so far as to ‘shake’ it out of me. This is advice I could have used back then, but it won’t work for everyone. Use your judgement, and knowledge of the circumstances to help the best you can. As I mentioned in this article, my pain story is long and vast. It spans years of my life, it’s complicated, and difficult. There’s a good chance the kid that your worried about will be a complex case too.

How to help a child deal with chronic pain.

Help them to speak up for themselves at the doctors.

Aged 16 or younger, kids generally have to have a parent or guardian in with them when they’re at the doctors. If the parent doesn’t give them any support or refuses to take them to the doctors, this is extremely problematic. If parents do attend appointments they can talk over them, refuse to listen to what they have to say, and even go so far to tell the doctor something else entirely, it’s even more difficult.

My advice, get them to write a letter to the doctor with a list of their symptoms, how long they’ve been going on, what makes it better or worse. Try to encourage them to make it as detailed as they can. This is especially important if the child shows no physical symptoms of chronic pain, as many do not. By writing a letter the child is more likely to remember what they need to talk about, and they could even give it to the doctor.

Keep a record.

Pain is hard to turn into something concrete, it a fickle beast that is ridiculously easy to forget just how bad it is, so keeping record is the only way they are ever going to know if it gets better or worse.

Teach them the 1 to 10 scale, show in graphics like this, and this. Help them to understand that doctors treat pain in a numerical way. If they can understand the numerical aspect of pain, and keep a journal chronicling this change and fluctuation along with the activities they were involved in, It helps the medical field understand what the pain is caused by. In years to come if the child still has pain, it’s also a useful tool to see what the pain used to be like.

Validate their feelings.

Ask them what their pain is like, and take them seriously. Sure, a kid’s pain scale is different to ours, so alternate your perceptions accordingly. Is their pain as bad as tripping and falling, or bashing their head against monkey bars for example. Relate it to something that’s common to them.

If a kid feels their pain is validated they’re more likely to talk to you about it instead of keeping it hidden. The more they talk to you about it, hopefully the more comfortable they will be when talking to a medical professional.

Let them know they’re not alone.

A child with the parent or carer that this message is their pain is not a child that is being cared for properly. If you ever come across a childIn this position, tell them they’re not alone, tell them they don’t have to deal with this by themselves, and keep telling them. 


I wrote this with children in chronic pain in mind, but if the child is growing up chronic pain, and their parent or carer is taking notice they’re most likely also being neglected and/or abused. I know I was. I had RSI that wouldn’t go away when I was a kid, which then developed into back pain, and has progressed substantially since then. If a child is showing symptoms of any form of abuse or neglect, act accordingly. Don’t let them suffer.

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