At the pediatrician’s office, I had to tell them not to give my son a toy after getting vaccinated.
A couple of times they did that. Before I could stop it. Right after he gets the shot, when he starts whining a little bit, they just popped this surprise egg car toy thing before I could stop it. And of course, it distracts him and he stops crying but he was going to stop crying anyway. 18 months old, he got vaccinated many times before. It’s never been a big deal. Each time we explain to him that he is going to get a needle, that it’s going to hurt a little bit but then the pain will go away. We kind of distract him with little taps and pinches on his skin so that the pain is dispersed from where he gets the shot. So he has those tools to manage the pain. We prepare him mentally, even before he understood the words for it. We help him use his body to manage the pain, as opposed to giving him a toy to distract him away from it.
So this new thing with the surprise blue plastic egg birthing a little yellow car both of which are ultimately going to become trash and lead to more pain via the damage they cause on my son’s Planet than the sting of a jab… totally triggered me.
I said, sharply: “please no candy, no car toys. He can deal with it.”
The nurse was fazed. Hurt maybe.
Pain is part of life. One shouldn’t be rewarded material things for enduring it.
Therapist Halina Pytlasinska wrote in a contribution to the Climate Psychology Alliance newsletter:
Ecological damage is born from the human desire to avoid pain.
I think about this a lot. The way we are going to live through climate change is going to involve discomfort. My son’s generation is likely to experience great emotional turbulence at the very least. Dealing with the trauma of a planetary crisis will require some pain management skills. No toys. No pills.
From a very young age, I feel obligated to instill in my son the capability to feel things in his body and recognize them with clarity. I can only hope that he doesn’t fall into patterns of avoiding pain by seeking material rewards, or excessive consumption. So that he can have complete agency over the nature of the pain he feels…