Pain Narratives and Memory Study

Children’s pain memories are powerfully shaped by the ways in which parents reminisce with their children about pain.

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In collaboration with Ear, Nose, and Throat clinic surgeons at Alberta Children’s Hospital, we examined how children remember post-surgical pain and how they talk about it with their parents.

What we studied:

This research project was the first to examine the socio-linguistic context (i.e., parent-child narratives about pain) of pain memory development in young children undergoing tonsillectomies. 

What we found:

In a group of children 4-7 years old undergoing tonsillectomy, we showed that how parents reminisced with their children about the surgery influenced how children remembered pain.

What's next:

We used this work to develop a new intervention to teach parents how to reminisce with their children to reframe their memories in positive ways. You'll find it below! 

The simple act of TALKING
in a special way to your child CAN CHANGE
how they remember PAIN.

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Pain isn’t over when it’s over. Our memories of pain stay with us into adulthood.But there is good news. Scientific research tells us that we can shape pain memories to be more positive

By choosing to talk about a painful experience in a positive way, you can change your child’s memory of it to be more positive too.

How? Use this powerful combination:

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Don’t talk about pain or scary feelings. Focus on the positive.

Catch exaggerations and remind your child what really happened.

Tell your child that they were brave, and why. Celebrate.

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The benefits? 

You are empowered. 

Research tells us that your child will be less scared and have less pain the next time.

You empower your child. 

You teach your child better ways to remember and manage painful experiences.

Their future looks brighter.

Research tells us benefits are long lasting, helping your child to better manage pain as an adult!

Hooray for Science!

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We are Champions for Kids’ Pain. Our team (lead by Dr. Melanie Noel) is driven, clever and focused. Our research is actively pursuing better ways to understand, diagnose, manage, reduce, and treat pain. We incorporate research and collaboration for better understanding and better solutions for kids and families living with pain, now.

Pain is real. Change the conversation.