7 Year Old (Boy) 'Over-reacts' over Each Scratch or Bruise... Approach???

Updated on April 23, 2013
M.J. asks from Los Angeles, CA
14 answers

Hi Moms...
Oh, where do I begin….here's my issue... I have a 7 year old who's a bit of a hypochondriac.... he gets upset over bumps and bruises, limps for days… A few days ago, kids were running around, he got scratched on his leg with some stick, really not a big deal… Wanted a band aid, Fine… Reasonable… Bedtime comes around, and he starts panicking and freaking out that he needs to wrap it in this Giant Ace Bandage, because his scratch hurts, and he NEEEEEDS it… so without thinking, I gave it to him, he went to sleep, everything’s fine… the next day, he’s fine all day, mentions his scratch once, keeps playing basketball, legos, all is well… Bedtime: FREAK OUT!!! And I’m sure as anyone with any logic, you would say, “he’s just pushing your buttons, he just doesn’t wanna go to sleep and is over-exaggerating to get my attention”… And I feel like its 100% unnecessary for him to wear an Ace Bandage to bed over a scratch, its ridiculous… so for 30 minutes, he was SCREAMING!!!! And I mean, SCREAMING like a 3 year old, having a full on tantrum… he almost made himself gag… during those 30 minutes, I’ve walked into his room several times, with each visit giving him a different consequence. He has lost his TV privileges and video games for a week, he’s got no playdates. He woke up my younger child, I was on the verge of insanity, so after battling for soooo long, I caved in… I KNOW, I KNOW!!! Big mistake, HUGE!!! … We haven’t had a tantrum in soooo long, and he’s so much older then a normal ‘tantrum’ age, I really just didn’t know what else to do… And now, this morning, I’m soooo regretful over this… I couldn’t sleep all night, it didn’t sit well at all… Not even that I Caved, and will probably have to do this all over again tonight, but that I don’t know how to handle a this… And my main concern is, how do I approach this without psychologically damaging him?? Do I ignore his BS because he’s ‘punking’ me?? or do i need to be more sensitive and comfort him, even though i know there's nothing wrong with him... He’s always been a sensitive kid, he’s never been an easy kid to raise, he requires a lot of attention and a lot of work. He’s what we call “A Leader”…. and at the same time he’s a smart, strong willed, very self-sufficient child. This whole Over-reacting Pain thing is driving me bananas…. Advise??

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answers from Washington DC on

Over-reacting comes from giving in.

Once you stop giving in, he won't have any use for over-reacting.

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answers from Sacramento on

Our six-year-old daughter is the same way. I finally found something that works. Anytime she pulls a dramatic tantrum over nothing, I say, "OK, let's go to the doctor. This sounds serious. I'm sure there's a shot they can give you to make it feel better."

Bam. She amazingly gets better. :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I agree with wise CoMoMom.

Next time just give him the bandage, and say, "There you go" and walk away. This time everything escalated because you didn't want to "cave in" but was it worth it if it escalated? Giving him the bandage up front could have defused everything. He will not ask for them forever.

Kids his age, both boys and girls, hit a stage around 7 to 9 where things get very exaggerated in their minds as they figure out who they are and what they want; many kids this age can be more sensitive and get set off by tiny things that seem insignificant and silly to adults - but they are not insignificant to the kids. Scratches could turn septic! A test is the biggest deal on the planet and I'm gonna fail and repeat third grade forever! My friend says he likes me but hates me! It's not just your son "punking" you -- why do you attribute that to him, unless he truly has a record of just trying to get your goat? It's probably his age and stage more than it is him. And a child who generally needs atttention and is sensitive is going to have a tougher time with this sensitive and drama-prone stage than a less needy kid.

There are some great books out there about kids and the stages they pass through at different ages. If you can locate some of those, read objectively about your son's age group and you'll see that you may have a couple of years of drama and overreaction and tears for no particular reason ahead of you. It usually settles down around age nine (and....can come back in later years as puberty really kicks in). I've been there and so have tons of my friends, so you're not alone.

Please don't ascribe motives to your son that may not be there -- rather than playing you, it's probable that he sincerely believes he's hurt, and while you don't want to feed into that with "Oh, darling, let's swathe you in cotton, and let you watch cartoons all tomorrow," it does not hurt you or him to hand him an ace bandage and say, "Here, you're a big guy, wrap it up" and then discuss it no more. You seem to fear that if you cave in it's a "huge mistake" but calmly acknowledging his fears, giving HIM some control by letting him bandage himself, and moving on is not caving in. It only became caving when he worked up a tantrum over it, and that doesn't have to happen next time. He will take his cues from you - if you resist and push back and say "You're not hurt," then he will push back against you harder. It's hard to stay calm, mom, I know, but the calmer you are -- together with acknowledging, "Yeah, it probably hurts, doesn't it?' -- the calmer he eventually will learn to be. Teach him to wash his own cuts, give him boxes of band-aids in places where he can get to them, and give him a little control. But also don't be worried about a little comfort. He's only seven, and it will not damage him psychologically -- in fact it's good for him -- if he knows he can rely on you to listen when he thinks he's hurt, and to give him the tools to fix himself up as you tell him, "Good job" and then distract him afterward.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You'll probably get a lot of responses on how he's "playing" and manipulating you and how you have to establish yourself as the authority and all that. But I don't really come from that school of thought.

(I mean, yeah, that stuff happens, but it's usually more complex than people make it out to be, and there are kinder, subtler ways to deal with it.)

So I'm going to respond with a few alternate possibilities.

1. Some people are physiologically more sensitive than others. If your son is one of them, he'll ultimately need to be educated about his own personal pain scale, but I wouldn't just dismiss his response.

2. If this came from a stick outside and that stick broke the skin, then there's a reasonable possibility that he could have some kind of bacterial infection, or an inflammation like cellulitis, going on. So, take a look at the scratch. If you notice any significant swelling, pus, or discoloration of the skin (either bruise-like beneath the surface or redness and flaking on the surface) then take him in to the proverbial shop. If it turns out to be nothing, then he'll probably believe it when the doctor says so, and that'll be the end of it.

3. A lot of fascinations grow out anxiety, and this could be a great moment to get him interested in science and medicine. Talk about the role of platelets, lymphocytes, the whole deal. And help him understand, an Ace bandage is really not what you want for a scrape. A dollop of Neosporin will fulfill the same psychological need, and it'll do his leg a lot more good.

I also find that it's possible to be a little "crisp" and a little comforting all at once. A lot of medical professionals walk this line.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

First, you caved, you know it, but will have to stop doing it. The story 'The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf' comes to mind. Maybe turn this into a teachable moment. I have always told my kids, some of whom are the same way, that when they act like that it makes it hard for me to take serious injuries seriously cause I won't/can't tell the difference.

If he pulls it tonight, do not give in, do not take away tv or anything else, do not feed into his reaction. that is only going to prolong the tantrum. Instead go in periodically and reassure him that he is fine, and leave. Use just your words. I know it sucks when they wake up the younger ones. Lord do I get that, but you can not give in to just keep the peace or you will find yourself fighting the same battles over and over again. (lesson learned the hard way for me)

Do not turn this into a battle of the wills, which is what happens when you start taking things away from him.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I have 4 kids, 2 were "sensitive" like that, and 2 would keep right on playing with blood running down their legs. With my 2 sensitive ones, it drove me crazy too, until I applied a little bit of reverse psychology. Oh, your leg hurts? I'm SOOOO sorry you are going through this. Tomorrow, since your leg hurts, you need to stay inside to heal. Oh, I don't think you better play video games, because you might stress the cut. Just lay with your leg resting. No TV though, you just need quiet. I would give them bandaids and ice packs, but I don't remember them EVER consenting to staying inside. Their hurts very magically healed themselves. I presented it as something they NEED because they were hurt, not as a punishment. It was entirely THEIR choice. If they were hurting still then they needed it. If they were sucking it up and better, then fine.

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answers from Chicago on

Well, while he is playing during the day his attn is diverted, and he does not think about his scratch. At night settlilng in for bed, bath etc.. It actually might be hurting and now his attn is not diverted.

Keep calm and don;t let him know he is getting to you. He is only asking for a bandage to make him feel better, to comfort him. I do not see the harm in letting him have it.

I know my self I have days where I have more paitence then others, some things bother me more than other days. I have to try and keep calm, not mean when I tell my son no etc.

Good Luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I would give him the ace bandage before he began screaming. It's nothing more than a comfort item.

I think there is a middle ground.

I wouldn't punish for this - I would have a conversation around WHY it hurts at bedtime but not during the day and let him try and answer. The goal here is to get HIM to realize he's fine.

If you've always known he is highly sensitive, then I would stop expecting him to be something else. You're battling with him because you want him to change. Instead find items that comfort him and find ways to help him cope.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I would conveniently lose the ace bandage quickly. If he carries on tonight, just stand firm telling him he does not need it. I am thinking if you give in, next time it is more than a scratch, he will be horrible to deal with. The less attention the better. My granddaughter said she broke her toe. Every morni g it had to be wrapped, until I saw her running down the driveway. That ended that. You certainly do not seem like someone who would baby him. Lose the bandage tonight. If he carries on, tell him that you think maybe he needs to see a doctor. Hate to threaten but that will usually put an end to things. Good luck tonight.



answers from Las Vegas on

I think I might bring the topic up with your child, sometime during the day and not before bedtime. I'm not sure I would dismiss the ace bandage or his pain. I'd ask him to take a look at it, during a nice, calm peiod of the day, and then reassure him that he's healing beautifully. Put a little neosporin on it, a kiss from Mom heals things, and assure him that he'll be fine. Personally, I feel like he's in a stage (big enough, but not big enough) and he needs a little bit attention. So, at bedtime, sit with him, find out hoe his day went, or ask him about the games or levels that he's on, or talk about future plans or vacations, anything to divert his attention. He needs Mom, not an Ace bandage.


answers from Denver on

Take a Parenting with Love and Logic class. They explain what a child's real motives are, what the developmental stages are, and give you great ways to discipline rather than punish.


answers from Grand Forks on

I agree with the mom who suggested you offer to take him to the doctor to get a shot.



answers from Detroit on

I would give him the bandage.. but no attention. hand the bandage to him.. let him wrap it up himself... It is very likely a stage.. if you don't play along too much it will go away.

my son is similar.. he needs lots of bandaids for booboos I can barely see. he was moving his leg the other day and said he thought it had a broken bone. he is just a bit anxious about physical injuries.. no big deal..I hope he grows out of ti..



answers from New York on

I posted recently about my 7 year old so was looking forward to reading your responses. Maybe 7 is a tough age in ways and some kids are just overly sensitive. Your son is sensitive about cuts/boo boo's, mine is about the weather! She FREAKS at the idea of it getting hot. And I honestly don't think either of our kdis are playing us. She is sincerely upset and tries not to be but I can see her mind working. It's so frustrating and upsetting I know. I was almost late again for work this mornign bc she's upset winter is over. Of course, and I bet her this, she'll be upset when summer is over... My oldest isn't like this but my husband and I commented she has differnt "triggers'. And some kids are just more sensitive. I worry about my 7 year old for sure. Is she too sensitive, is she going to have problems as a teen and adult?... But then I read your post and how some people say this can be a hard age and I think maybe it is just a stage. I thnk unless either of our kids start being unreasonably sensitive to lots of stuff, we figure it's jsut a stage and hope it passes. And in the meantime, I would definitely give him the bandage. No big deal. Not like he wants to take a huge stuffed animal to school that everyone will make fun of. And if he doesn't really throw tantrums all the time (like my daughter doesn't at all), he's not punking you IMO. He's honestly worried.

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