Fathers used negative-emotion words similarly with boys and girls, whereas mothers used negative-emotion words more frequently with boys than with girls.
Boys used pain-related words with the same frequency when talking with mothers and fathers, whereas girls used more pain-related words when reminiscing with mothers than with fathers.
“Taken together,” the researchers note, “these findings underscore the importance of parent-child reminiscing about painful events in influencing children’s subsequent pain memory development and begin to isolate specific narrative elements that are linked to negative biases in children’s pain memories.”
“From a clinical perspective, we do not believe that this research suggests that parents should not reminisce with their children about pain,” they write. “Rather, it points to how parents may most adaptively reminisce about past painful experiences to potentially buffer against children developing negatively biased pain memories.”
“By using an elaborative reminiscing style, parents engage their children in a rich discussion about their past experience, filling in new details, encouraging and fostering a coherent narrative about this past experience, and also coconstructing the meaning of that experience,” they explain. “Moreover, talking about painful experiences need not over focus on the sensory and affective aspects of pain itself but rather emphasize other aspects of the overall experience.”
“This research underscores the importance of parent-child reminiscing in children’s pain memory development and may be used to inform the development of a parent-led memory reframing intervention to improve pediatric pain management,” the authors conclude.
Dr. Noel did not respond to a request for comments.
- Noel M, Pavlova M, Lund T, et al. The role of narrative in the development of children’s pain memories: influences of father– and mother-child reminiscing on children’s recall of pain. Pain. 2019 Mar 21. [Epub ahead of print]