Issues Magazine

Do You Know a Child with Chronic Pain?

Source: 

Support Kids in Pain

If you have a sibling or friend with chronic pain:

  • Remember that they have pain even if you can’t see it, and it can make them feel sad and not themselves.
  • Their pain may make it hard for them to be a school all the time.
  • Always include your friend, even if they may not be able to fully participate – it will help them feel better.
  • Encourage them to participate in normal activities and those they find enjoyable.
  • Be positive: notice and praise normal activities with strong affirmations (e.g. “you can manage your pain”, “I know it’s tough but you are doing great”).
  • Encourage problem-solving to manage their pain (e.g. using hot packs and music to relax).

The school environment provides not only educational learning but also social interaction with peers and activity to maintain normal function. For teachers and principals:

  • Remember that kids do get pain; the pain is real even if it cannot be seen.
  • Be positive: “You can manage your pain”.
  • Support good coping strategies such as pacing a child’s return to school rather than expecting full-time participation straight away.
  • Encourage problem-solving: an adolescent may be able attend class with pain if they can get a time-out when required (e.g. from sports or lengthy sitting). Attendance for lunch and classes they enjoy may be the key to a gradual return to school life despite ongoing pain.
  • Medications can affect student concentration, so allow extra time for understanding and learning. Sometimes these medications need to be taken at school to maintain a stable level of relief.

The charity Support Kids in Pain (www.skip.org.au) provides information and support for children with chronic pain and their families.