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Handling a Child’s Upsets and Accidents

There are things you, as a parent, can do to help your child recover rapidly from the bumps, bruises, scrapes, scares and upsets that are often part of growing up.

These special methods or ways to help, which have been included below, use communication between you and your child. Communication is vitally important in dealing with children, as it is in any aspect of life. The actions described here are all assists. An assist is a simple action you can take with someone to help relieve a discomfort or help handle a difficulty.

There are many things you can do to help a child who gets a cut or is injured by a minor fall. If the question is, “If a child hurts himself, what do you do at once and what do you do later?” The answer depends on what you mean by “at once.”

Be Quiet

If you really mean at once, immediately, the answer is to be quiet! When a child hurts himself, stop talking. Try not to say to everyone around you, “Shush! Shush! Shush!” or “Stop talking!” or “Keep quiet!” You should just be quiet. If other people are talking around the injured child, you would sometimes just move them away, but don’t do much talking while doing that. You can help a child most by saying nothing. It may take a short while to train yourself not to speak when the child is hurt, but it is not difficult to form this habit. Silence does not lessen affection.

So being quiet is the first thing you should do, because making a lot of noise and rushing around or talking around an injured child can hurt his chances of recovery.

Therefore, do not talk to or make noises around a child who has just been hurt. Work quietly to help the child by giving any needed first aid for the injury.


Another thing you could do to help the child is to try a little mimicry. Mimicry is the copying or imitating of another person’s actions and body motions that show their emotions. Do silent mimicry, which means copying the child’s motions only, not what he says. And you do so without speaking. For example, the child looks at you and rubs his eyes. So you look at him and rub your eyes. He gets the idea that you are there and in communication with him and he will come right out of the upset.

Mimicry is very interesting. You can do mimicry with children on subway trains and in buses and in stores and so on. Let us say you see a little child who is very, very young. He smiles, you smile back to him. Or you happen to notice he is wrinkling his nose at you. So you wrinkle your nose at him the same way. He becomes very interested because he sees that you have a communication going with him.

“Where Did It Happen?”

The best assist for an injured or upset child is to simply ask him “Where did it happen?” and then, after that, ask him, “Where are you now?” When you ask these questions, you must get the child to point to the location each time he answers. This assist can help heal an awful lot of bruises on children very rapidly.

You can vary the questions based on the circumstances. Say a child tells you he hurt his knee. You can ask, “Where did you hurt it?” And then “Where are you now?” Or “Where did you fall?” And “Where are you now?” Repeat the questions, one after the other, until the child is over the upset.

“Tell Me About It”

You can also simply ask an injured child, “What happened? Tell me about it.” Then let the child tell you what happened. When he finishes telling you, ask him to tell you again.

You can take the child through it several times until he laughs or is cheerful about it.

Locational Assist

One of the easiest assists to give is a Locational Assist. A Locational Assist is done by redirecting a person’s attention off the painful area of his body or his upset and out onto the area around him.

Say you wanted to give an assist to a child who had a difficulty that he could not locate or describe. The child has a pain but he cannot say where. He doesn’t know what has happened to him. He just feels bad.

Tell the child you are going to do a Locational Assist and briefly explain the procedure. Tell him what you are going to say and be sure he understands it.

Then point to an object and say to the child, “Look at that ______ (object).”

When the child does what you asked, acknowledge him by saying “Good” or “Thank you.”

Continue giving the child the assist, guiding his attention to different objects around him. For example, it could be a door, a chair or a toy.

Be sure to acknowledge him each time he does what you asked him to do. For example, you say, “Look at that tree.” He looks at the tree and you see that he has done so. You acknowledge him with “Thank you.” Then you tell him to “Look at that building.” He looks at the building and you see that he has done so and you say “Good.” Then you tell him, “Look at that street.” He looks at the street and you see he has done that and you acknowledge him by saying “All right.” Then you tell him to “Look at that lawn.” He does it and you see he did it and you acknowledge him with something like “Very good.” Each time you tell him to look at something, you must point to that object.

Keep this up until the child’s pain lessens and he is more alert. When that happens, you can end the assist. Tell the child, “End of assist.”

A Locational Assist is very easy to give. It can be done when a child has specific injuries or when he is ill or if he has something that is making him feel ill or painful that he cannot easily describe to you.

Doing a Locational Assist can help a child considerably.

Directional Assist

A directional assist is also very good for children. In this assist, the child points and indicates a direction. To do this assist, the child must be at least two-and-a-half years old. You ask the question, “Where is (and name some familiar object, such as the table)?” And then “Where is the chair?” And “Where is Mama?” And so on. Doing this assist on a child is very workable.

You can also do this assist as part of teaching language to a child. He can quickly learn the names of all the objects in a room by doing this. You ask, “Where is the table?” And then you say, “That is a table, right there. Now, where is the table? All right, there is the table. All right.”

Then you can take another object or part of the space around you and ask, “Where is the floor? That is the floor.”

When doing this assist with a child, after a while he will ask you, “Where is the table?” and “Where is the floor?” and so forth. Don’t mind it. Just go ahead and follow his requests. That cheers him up, too.

Dealing with Grief

If a child is in grief (feels very sad, is crying, etc.), just letting him cry until he comes out of it will often be enough. This is especially true if you are in close contact with him and he knows he can count on you for support and assistance.

If you ask him what happened and he does not answer, do not insist or demand that he tell you. And don’t try to stop a child from crying by simply telling him not to cry.

Let him cry. That’s what you should do for him. Don’t try to cheer him up. Let him cry. Let him cry until he finally sees that you are there.

If you start to talk to a child who is crying, you can make him suddenly become very angry and behave in an uncontrolled way or he will get upset or he will throw himself around. He will do various things. He just wants you to stop talking to him.

He is crying because he has lost something. There is something lost there, one way or the other. And now, you, with your questions, are trying to get something from him. You want him to say something.

When he is feeling bad and crying, because he lost something, he knows better than to say something to you, because he thinks he is just going to lose more. So if you force communication on him, he may get upset. But, if you use good, gentle communication to make him aware of the fact that he is not entirely out of people to talk to, you create a balance. He sees that you are there, talking to him, and that you don’t really expect him to have to answer.

If you do this very gently and do not say much, he will simply become aware of you. He will, all of a sudden, stop crying and he will relax because he has recognized that you are there.

Another thing you can do is take a little toy or something of this sort and put it in his hand. You can give him almost anything. He will reject it at first. Why is he rejecting it? For him, it is not there, that’s all. He is afraid you are going to talk to him. But, all of a sudden, he will take what you put in his hands and say, “Oh, well. This is fine.”

He might become a little antagonistic when you give him something. Did you ever buy your child an ice-cream cone? You saw him crying and you handed him an ice-cream cone. He sobbed a little bit more and he was perhaps maybe a little bit antagonistic, then he pretended he was not really interested in the ice cream and finally, as he came through it, there he was, eating the ice cream and looking around and feeling fine.

Something else that you can do to help a child is to attract his attention by doing what he is doing. For example, a little child is lying on the floor, feeling very sad and crying and won’t answer you. You can lie down on the floor and start crying too. Sometimes you can simply lie down on the floor in the same position that the child is in and the child will feel more comfortable. It may sound odd, but you just lie down and the child stops crying. The child feels better because you are there and just starts talking to you. But if that doesn’t work, you could start crying too.

Let’s say the child is lying there and going boo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo and you lie there and go boo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo. The child might even say something like, “What is all this noise? What’s going on here?” And he would notice you. It is just a way of attracting attention. When you get the child’s attention focused a little bit on some part of the area around him, that is the first entering step of communication.

As another example, a child may be feeling bad. He might feel as if life has very heavy boots and has just been walking all over him. The child is feeling horrible and he goes “sniff-sniff.” So you make the same “sniff-sniff” sounds. If you do this, the child will look at you and look away again.

The next thing you know, the child will try this again and go “Sniff.” So you go “Sniff.”

And then the child will become cheerful.

Another method to help a crying child is to have the child exaggerate his tears. Here’s an example of how one parent handled his crying daughter in this way. She came in crying because she wanted something and so the parent said, “Gee, that’s pretty good. Let’s see if you can do it again.” So she cried again and then looked at him with a smile. And he said, “That’s pretty good.” She thought so too. That was the end of the tears.

A simple form of this even works on a baby: you simply acknowledge what the infant is doing. A little baby, lying in his crib, is crying, crying, crying, crying, crying and people come around and usually say, “Shush, shush, it’s all right honey, nobody’s going away and nobody is going to just leave you,” etc. But a Scientologist walks up to the crib and gives the baby some good acknowledgments, saying to him “Good! Fine!” And the baby stops crying. Why does he stop? Because, in so many words, the Scientologist said, “I heard you crying, I know what you are doing, you are lying there crying.” It is the acknowledgment that worked—letting someone know you heard them.

As an amusing example of acknowledging a small child for what he is doing, there was once this little baby, who was lying in his crib and he was crying, crying, crying, crying, crying. A Scientologist got alongside the crib and said “Hello!” Then he said, “Lie in your crib.” “Thank you.” “Lie in your crib.” “Thank you.” “Lie in your crib.” That’s what the baby was doing, so he heaved a tremendous sigh of relief and stopped crying. It’s pretty simple. The Scientologist gave him something to do that he could really do with success.

So the way to help a child who is in grief is to simply be there for the child and bring him out of his grief through communication. If you can get him into communication, he will come out of his upsets.


The main points in dealing with a child’s upsets or injuries are these:

  1. Say nothing and make no sound around an injured child.
  2. Let the child cry it out, if that seems to be enough.
  3. Give the child assists to help him recover rapidly from the injury or upset.
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