By Nicole Pelletiere
Playground weather is here, meaning your little one will be back to her usual—jumping, climbing, falling down and yes, getting hurt. Here’s how to soothe toddler boo-boos—and get your tot back on the monkey bars, stat.
They key to dealing with toddler boo-boos? Knowing that a band-aid alone probably won’t help your tot feel better. “Even if it isn’t a genuine code-red that may require immediate medical attention, it’s still important to offer her comfort,” says Jeanette Sawyer Cohen, Ph.D, a licensed clinical psychologist and child development consultant in New York City. In other words, no matter how big or small the injury, what your child really needs is for you to acknowledge the incident. Here’s Dr. Sawyer Cohen’s tips to soothe your toddler’s boo-boos.
Be sensitive to toddler boo-boos
Sometimes the surprise of falling down or bumping into something can be just as scary as the actual injury. A bump or a fall will likely startle your toddler, triggering a rush of the stress hormone adrenaline that causes a rise in heart rate and breathing. That feeling alone can be scary for a little kid, so even if there’s not a cut or bruise in sight, take a quick time-out to help your child calm down.
Offer a snuggle
Don’t be surprised if your child’s scare sends her flying into your arms. To soothe toddler boo-boos, get down on your little one’s level with open arms, so she sees that she’s welcome to snuggle in. Your comforting hugs will give her brain the signal to stop producing adrenaline and start producing oxytocin, the hormone that promotes feelings of comfort, bonding, and safety. Isn’t it cool how your love alone has the amazing ability to help your child feel better?
First aid her feelings
Once your toddler’s crying or breathing has calmed down, talk about what happened and offer some “feelings first aid” in the form of a kiss and a bandage (imaginary or real, depending on the injury!). To soothe toddler boo-boos, use simple phrases like, “That was really scary when you tripped over the step. Can mommy kiss your boo-boo?” Knowing that you understand what she went through—and that you’re not afraid to talk about it—will make your child feel safer and understood, helping her bounce back faster.
Don’t dwell on boo-boos
How you respond should be based on your child’s reaction to the boo-boo, as well as the seriousness of the injury. As your child starts to relax, warm her up by easing into a quiet activity (like a game of I Spy) before suggesting she get back on the playground equipment. And if she seems to be fine, just drop it! Continuing to talk about the wound after she’s over it will show that you’re still unsettled about what happened, and will leave her feeling unnecessarily anxious.
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