5 Year Olds Very Low Pain Tolerance

Updated on July 10, 2012
M.P. asks from Minneapolis, MN
17 answers

My 5 year old girl has had this very low, to no pain tolerance since I can remember. I dont really know if she is hyper-sensitive but I think its starting to get on my nerves. I will of course have her checked out, but this has been for years since she started expressing pain in a coherent way. If she gets a hangnail, its the end of the world. Combing hair is a disaster. Stubbing her toe requires hours of coddling or ignoring depending on where we are. Banging her knee is a Shakespearean play. Everything has to have a bandaid, and everything is expressed with shrill screaming, whining for hours, and then days afterwards we hear about it many ways. Bug bites require Hydro cortisone cream at least once every 2 hours, and scrapes are like slash marks if you were to believe how she puts on.

My second isnt like that at all. You barely notice she has a bloody cut until you get blood on you. She gashed her head at school and no one knew about it till I got there and saw blood in her hair. My 1 year old boy, falls down running top speed bites lip, skins knees raw, opens up his finger nail and he gets up and makes damn sure we are not behind him as he books to where ever it was he was headed too. He looks at his boo boo after its full of sand and says "eh? boo boo? So I know its not something that is genetic. I have a very high pain tolerance, as well as my husband so we have no clue where she is getting this from. I cant really tell if its attention getting or really does it hurt her that MUCH?

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers


answers from Los Angeles on

Sound as if you have a little drama queen ; )

Tend to her ouchies as quickly as possible in a matter-of-fact way, give her a hug and a kiss and send her on her way, do not get sucked into the drama. If she continues to moan, groan, scream, whine, etc., tell her she needs to go in her room and lie down and not play, so she can rest and heal. If she keeps it up tell her she just may need to go to the doctor for a shot so she can heal...this always quieted my daughter down FAST!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

You had me until you said band aid.

Band aids don't relieve pain, so it's solely attention getting.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Spokane on

When my daughter make a big stink over a little bump or scratch, I act all dramatic with them - I scoop them up, sqeeze them really tight while carrying on "oh NO! Are you OK? Is it broken? NOOOOO!" - and they always giggle :) Then I give them a little kiss and send them on their way.

On occassion this will not work and (according to them) the world is ending because they scraped their knee. So I give them a kiss, apply any necessary and appropriate first aid and make them sit quietly in their room resting until they're OK to play. Then I leave them alone and *bored*. I think the longest stint was about 5 minutes before she came bouncing out saying she was all better.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

My daughter used to be like that. Her dad has a very low pain tolerance, so I was never sure if it really hurt or if she was seeking attention. In our case, it was seeking attention. We used to tell her, "oh, your knee hurts too much? that's too bad. you'll have to stay in bed and rest while daddy and your sister go to get ice cream." It was amazing how much better she felt right away.

Similarly, the other suggestions about having her stay in her room until she "feels better" seem to work pretty well. Since ignoring her seems to work, I would guess it's a play for attention....

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

Hi MM! Hours of coddling? No way!

I have boys. They are certainly more rough and tumble. But I think that perhaps you might want to treat her more like a boy with this.

I would treat her wound, tell her "That's enough, Susie. I don't want to hear anymore fussing about this" and then walk away from her and go about your business. If she can't calm herself down, send her to her room.

Do you have have hair detangler? I'd spray her hair with that or cut it short. If she balks over having short hair, tell her that when she can stop screaming about combing her hair, she can grow it long again. That might be a while.

I wouldn't let her continue her tirades for days on end. For bug bites, putting on the hydrocortisone several times a day is fine - those bites can get infected if she scratches them. But other than a bandaid, I'd tell her to hush up after the initial onslaught.

The only thing that I will suggest that is NOT part of the drama queen spectrum is the possibility of a sensory problem. My younger son had the OPPOSITE problem - he didn't feel ENOUGH, so he was forever crashing himself into stuff in order TO feel. Sensory disorders present in a lot of different ways, including being TOO sensitive to touch. That might include pain. You could talk to an occupational therapist who works specifically with sensory issues and ask about helping with your daughter. Maybe that would make a difference, in tandem with you not allowing her to "perform" in front of anyone.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

If it was just the coddling from boo-boos she was seeking then I would attribute it to attention seeking. But the hair combing makes me wonder. Does she also fuss about her clothes being uncomfortable, tags itchy, socks uncomfortable, etc? If so then she probably has some sensory processing issues. It doesn't mean that you should continue to fuss over her, but it does give a starting point for understanding that what she is experiencing may be much more intense than your other kids.

Strategy with hair, keep it cut short and use detangler.
Strategy for injuries: Give her some rules/guidelines. If there is blood she can have a band-aid and a kiss. If there is no blood, she can have a hug and a kiss, then if she continues to fuss, she can do it in private in her room.
Start teaching her some breathing and calming techniques. You have to practice these when she is actually calm, but once she is familiar with them you can suggest she practice them when she is "freaking out" over a minor injury.
Talk with her and use examples/stories like "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" to teach her that if she overreacts to every little bump then no one will take her seriously when she gets a really bad injury. Start teaching her to talk about and compare pain levels from one boo-boo to the next so she can develop a sense of scale over time.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

This isn't a low pain tolerance. It's a high desire for attention and getting her own way. Next time she gets dramatic about getting her hair brushed tell her that it will can cut short so there won't be any pain. Or just let it go unbrushed, but don't go to the activity you were headed to (if it's something fun). "You won't let me brush your hair, so you'll have to stay here while your brother and sister go to the party." That won't work for church or school...just for fun things.

Screaming and whining? Only in her own room. She can come out when she can be nice. You have control of this. In turn, give big hugs and compliments for the times that she uses her words well, in place of the dramatics.

Never give in to medicine, etc, (even cortisone cream is medicine) just to quiet her. You need to deal with this now or you'll be dealing with the 15 year old version of demanding her own way in a few years.

I'm so sorry to sound as harsh as I do. I've seen too many children like this control whole families, then classrooms. The children as as miserable as the people around them.

You will know if she's really hurt. Her cry will be different. Also, getting a copy of "the boy who cried wolf" from the library might be a good learning aid.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It's attention-getting, and she's obviously getting it sometimes (you said so yourself). Stop giving it attention and the behavior will eventually stop.

My older child (8) used to be the same way, maybe not as extreme as yours (I do NOT put up with unnecessary screaming/whining), but I admit that I did give into it, coddle her, etc. She grew out of it on her own, thank goodness, but is still sort of a drama queen!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Sounds to me like she's a drama queen who is getting exactly what she wants for her screams and whines: Extra attention.

Instead of getting her a band-aid or hydrocortizone, put it where she can reach and teach her how to treat herself. Small scrapes and bites shouldn't get all that attention.

Cut her hair short and let her brush the tangles out herself.

It's okay to get attention for major injuries, but when she starts whining about little stuff, send her to her room to scream it out. Be sure to shut the door (and shut it again, because she'll probably open it so you can hear her screams better). Eventually, she'll see that payoff isn't worth it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Read the Highly Sensitive Child book!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Missoula on

I think it's for attention. Next time she gets 'hurt', (and she comes to you... if you see her fall, completely ignore it until SHE initiates the need for first-aid) do a token 'fix' (ie, kiss it better, and give her a hug... add band-aid if it's bleeding...) then send her on her way. If she wants extra attention, tell her "you're fine!" and send her on her way.

IF she keeps up the drama-queen act, tell her that she's too injured to play, and that she needs to rest in her room, in bed, until she's all better.

I bet that 'heals' her up quick! ;)

Alternatively, you could find something that is an undesirable 'fix' for minor hurts. Like, maybe a cleansing spray that has a little sting to it? Obviously, if she is truly hurt you want to make it as painless as possible, but for a little scrape? If she is going to be wanting lots of attention for something trivial, just make it BAD attention.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My guess is she is doing it for attention, and I like the suggestion of "rest and recovery time" in her room alone if she is going to be a drama queen about it. My stepson at that age wasn't nearly as bad about it, but often he would fall down ON PURPOSE and then look around to see if anyone had seen it - and then his mother would be all, like, "Oh, are you ok? Be careful sweetie!". Even that was enough attention for him. My daughter has been going through a phase of needing a Band-Aid for everything but I figure that isn't that big a deal - she gets her Band-Aid and she's happy.

My other mom friends and I tend to expect our kids to be a little bit tougher about things - if they just got a little scrape or a bump and are not hurt THAT bad, we finally just tell them, "Look, you're fine - now go play." From the time my daughter was 2, I've just told her "Now just shake it off!". One of my mom friends will just joke and tell her boys to go rub some dirt in it. Sometimes if they are still really crying and carrying on, we ask him if we need to cut the injured body part off - "Wow, your skinned knee hurts that bad? Do we need to cut your leg off?" One mom even tells her son, "Oh I better tell Dad to get the chainsaw!"

I realize that others may not agree, but we tend to just have a sense of humor about it, and the kids realize that all the dramatics isn't going to get our attention the way they want it to - so they stop pretty quickly!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

It sounds like you're dealing with two different things. First, is low pain tolerance (and honestly - I'm not sure it sounds like your daughter has that). The second is a need for attention. I'm sure she has that! I have two five year old girls too, so I understand that they're drama queens at that age. I have one who's more apt to wail and moan about a stubbed toe; the other sort of looks a cut and says "ow" and moves on.

Anyway, what works for us is this: band aids are for blood only. And that blood must be dripping. Any minor scrape/bump/stubbed toe is ignored by me unless a child asks for a kiss/hug. After that, they need to get back to real life and if they can't, that means they're too injured to play. So - it's off to the bedroom for rest, alone. I will check on the child every 15 minutes or so, but that's it. When the drama has passed, the child can start playing again - but if the moaning starts back up, it's back to rest since they're too sick to play. And if we're out when the injury happens and one of my kids is whining and wanting only to cuddle, that means we go home and she can rest.

If one of my kids is still talking about a minor injury two days later, I pretty much ignore her and ask her to tell me three things that feel awesome on her body. Then I act all interested in talking about the good stuff.

I'm more than happy to coddle a child who's truly injured. But every bump, bruise and cut? Heck no! By allowing them to get away with the drama, we're teaching them that injuries get attention and that's pretty much the opposite of what makes a healthy and interesting person.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

a friend of mine's kids were the exact same way.. iv seen their boy get hit in the head with a football and laugh about it but his little sister would barely fall on carpet and catch herself with her hands, so its not like she even got hurt or anything and would cry for 10minutes until u convinced her she didnt have a booboo .. shes 4 now and u can see its getting bettershe doesnt make such a big deal out of it anymore .. they made it a point not to really give any attention to it unless she was really hurt the reaction would be youre fine nothing happend and everntually she got the point ..with her i think it was an attention thing but hey everyone does have different tolerance to pain so i guess it could be either but i would bet its an attention thing but theres no harm in asking her doctor what he thinks

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I like Lesley's response.

Some people do feel pain more acutely, or, she's a drama queen. Either way, Lesley's method works.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

I would NOT assume this is about getting attention. She very well may have some sensory issues going on or simply have a much lower pain tolerance than anyone else in the house. That doesn't mean something is "wrong" with her that needs to be fixed. It may mean that you need to be a bit more understanding and help teach her appropriate responses.

This means that you may have to gauge how much pain she's actually feeling and if it's justified. Teach her how to control her responses in order to better take care of herself because keeping a clear head means she can get help for herself more quickly, more easily, and she can be soothed better.

She may simply be a crier, and that's okay too. It may be built into her personality, and she's generally more sensitive. That doesn't mean she needs toughening up. It just means she approaches things differently and again, she needs to be taught some coping skills.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Everybody has a different pain tolerance.

My mom and dad have high thresholds.

Sibling & I have low thresholds. Mine being lower in some areas & higher
in others.

It varies from person to person. It's not usually a cry for attention at that
age. It really is about pain. I think what you did was great. Just keep
doing that type of thing for her.

1 mom found this helpful
For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions