Last week B. got injured, and he was really upset with discomfort and limitations it brought to him. The injury was probably painful too, and he was scared it would never heal. So this is how I tried to help him with kindness and kind words.
B. was hungry and he washed an apple and wanted me to cut it into pieces. So I took the cutting board and an apple slicer and helped him to cut the apple. As he tried to release apple pieces from the slicer, he screamed and showed me his hand. I looked at it, but I did not see any blood or a cut or a scratch. So we continued in releasing apples. I left him to eat but after few bites he went to wash his hands. He played, came to M. and they started a tickling session. Suddenly B. started to cry and held his hand. His left thumb nail was injured and a part of his nail stuck out.
Treatment and reaction
He cried with a heartbreaking cry, hugged me tightly. He agreed to put a plaster on it after a while, which he was even more unhappy with because he did not like it was sticky. We tried to explain that the plaster will protect his finger nail until it heals. He repeated his nail will not heal and he does not want to have it injured. So I reminded him, how he injured his hand on a wooden box, how we looked at it every day and every day it looked better. He remembered but it did not help. So I tried to massage his body to relax, we read books and hugged a lot. I also explained what could help with healing – rest, sleep, eat healthy food, being careful with the injured finger…
We also asked him, whether he knew how he got injured. Sure, he did – with the apple slicer. After this piece of information there was a fight in me. I was the one who wanted him to participate on cutting the apple; therefore, I caused his injury. But learning new things leads him to grow, injuries happen and this one is not fatal. It is my fault he is in pain. It is useful to learn how to deal with pain.
I did not make my fight visible, although for few moments I almost started to cry. I told B. that next time he wants an apple we will be more careful and I will again show him how to work with the apple slicer safely.
After few hours M. removed the plaster because it was wet from washing hands. B. did not want a dry one to be put on his finger. Fortunately, there was no worsening of the situation. Shower, night sleep.
How I surprised myself…
The next morning went as usually. After few hours of playing he needed to go to toilet and sitting there he noticed his injured finger nail. He started to cry, he did not want to have his nail injured. His hand was closed into a tight fist and his whole body was tense. I stroked his hand slowly and said something like:
B., you can be kind to your thumb and say: it hurts and I am gentle so it can heal quickly. I am very careful.
At first he continued in denying – he did not want his thumb to be injured. So I repeated similar words. And he cried again, but… He asked me to repeat those reassuring and kind words for his thumb! After few times he said those kind words himself. He got calmer and finished his toilet session.
I was so surprised that I could demonstrate kind self-talk to B., what I am definitely not used to do with myself. I am learning, but I am usually harsh with myself: oh, I bumped my head again, I am so careless. Everyday I try to say nice and kind things to myself when I am calm and nothing is happening in order to show kindness to myself in uneasy situations in the future. This is what I noticed before already – I can accept other people’s feelings, be empathetic and kind to them – but I do not know how to be like that to myself.
How B. surprised everyone
Walking from the bathroom B. said he was tired and he was going to rest. He climbed into his crib and he rested there for about thirty minutes! Him staying in one place for such a long time? Him resting for such a long time? Even resting after few distractions? Resting even after asking for calm music (as M. was playing his guitar in B.’s room)?
M. was shocked, I was surprised and could not stop thinking about the words I told him about kind self-talk. Did they really work? Is it that easy? Does kind self-talk really work this effectively?
And B. has not mentioned his injured thumb nail since then. We were the ones who asked to see how it heals. He approached us, let us see and continued in his activities.
It is surprising that I can teach B. what my ideal for me, him, us and all the people is. It is not necessarily what I am able to do yet and it makes me so hopeful that when I can teach him, I can teach myself… He has changed my life!