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My daughter had gotten a bump on her head and I read online to ice it and give them a treat while you are icing their head to distract. I didn't do a treat because I didn't want her to think that to get something unique/fun, she had to hurt herself for it. Do you think I'm denying her comfort by not providing a treat? If so, what would be an appropriate treat for an injury?

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It'd depend on how bad the fall is vs. how great the treats are. – DA01 Aug 17 '12 at 18:56
up vote 7 down vote accepted

While I very much doubt that it would lead to a child purposely self-inflicting an injury to get a treat, it's still a bad idea. For injuries that are not life threatening - try laughing at it. Laugh out loud. LOL. Obviously you can still show concern and care but if it's not life threatening, then what's the harm in teaching a skill to laugh at our clumsiness or unluckiness?

Our kids sometimes laugh and cry at the same time. And now they laugh at me when I get hurt. Even when I want to cry. It's better than swearing and seems to take the edge off of the pain. At a young age it can be a cognitive dissonance distractor. At an older age it severely limits the "woe is me" factor.

My wife just crashed during a bike race and busted 3 ribs. That was the only time laughing was hard. And it made it even funnier because all she could say was "Don't make me laugh! It hurts to laugh!" Which only made us laugh more.

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This is the approach we have taken with our 3 and it works well. – Rory Alsop Aug 18 '12 at 9:53
We did this with our daughter. If she fell, we'd just say "dust off and keep going." Worked well until we worked out she thought that she should never cry, even when she fractured her arm. Later she face planted on bitumen surface, badly scratching her face but still did not allow herself to cry for half and hour. After that, we had to balance things out a bit. – dave Aug 21 '12 at 8:01

First, to answer your question, you are not denying comfort and asking the right question. Indeed associating two behaviors may create unwanted results ("I will eat my green peas if you give me your funny face" at a reception is always a pleasure).

So you already answered: do the confort, it's your child after all; but dissociate both in the long run, it should rather not turn to a routine.

If it really hurts, it's another deal.

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I've never once seen a young child intentionally hurt himself to get attention or a reward. Faking an injury is another matter, but that's usually easy to spot. My son even tried mimicking his sister's cerebral palsy symptoms a few times.

I think in the case of a head needing icing, the treat is intended to be more of a distraction than a comfort. You need them to stay relatively still for a while in an uncomfortable situation. There are other kinds of injuries where that's not the case. In those circumstances, although a treat wouldn't necessarily be harmful, I prefer emphasizing a method the child can use to comfort himself: taking deep breaths, shaking it off, finding something else to do, David's laughing it off idea, etc. Being dependent on something external for comfort makes it difficult in social circumstances where that thing isn't available, like a day care or a car ride for example.

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