Growing Pains-How Parents Can Help?

I have received a number of questions lately about growing pains, bad dreams and nightmares. Seems these topics are keeping parents up at night. Haha!

Seeing as how our son and daughter have complained of growing pains recently, and my husband and I both dealt with them as kids, let's start there. 

Growing Pains

What causes Growing Pains...

Although doctors don't know exactly what causes growing pains...

-Some doctors believe growing pains are more frequent in children with a lower pain threshold. 

-Doctors speculate that as bones grow in children's bodies, the tendons become tight. This causes aches and pains in the muscles around the bones, as the tendons try to catch up with the growth. This is why some doctors feel that children who go through rapid growth spurts might suffer more from growing pains. 

-Growing pains are usually more frequently reported in active children. Running, playing and jumping can make the pains worse. 

Who suffers...

Growing pains are most common in children between the ages of 3-12. I know for me, 10 was the magic age. They are a little more common with girls. They tend to coincide with periods of growth. 


* Aching and throbbing pains in the legs, usually both legs, not just one
* Leg pain lasting about 10-15 minutes. 
* Usually in the calves, front of the thighs, or back of the knees. 
* Growing Pains usually strike later in the day (late afternoon and early evening.) Kids don't always notice them at this time of day because they are still active and moving. 
* The pain can wake children in the middle of the night, but is gone by morning. 

What can be done...

When that call comes in the middle of the night and your children are complaining of pains in their legs, there are things we can do to help.

* Verbally acknowledge that your kids are in pain. Don't dismiss the problem because you don't "see" a problem. This acknowledgment in and of itself will give your children comfort.
* Massage the area that is hurting. (In my experience this is most helpful.)
* Help your child slowly stretch their legs. 
* Apply heat.
* Help your child stretch on a daily basis. Stretch, stretch, stretch. Dont' just have them stretch the day after the pains, keep stretching on a regular basis to keep the pains away. You can call your doctor for stretching exercises that best suit the age of your child. One we really like is flexing the feet. Bringing the toes up towards the calf. (The opposite of pointing your toes.)

I can remember a number of times as a child when I would call my parents in because my legs were aching. For me, having my parents rub my legs helped the most. It wouldn't take very long and I would be able to fall back asleep. We have done the same with our kids. 
Another thing that has really helped is stretching. Our kids are naturally really active, but slowing them down to stretch has nearly eliminated the night time pains. 

Could the pains be something else...

You will want to consider talking to your doctor if your child answers yes to any of the following...

* Are the legs red or swollen?
* Is the pain persistent?
* Is the pain still present when your child wakes in the morning?
* Does the pain make your child limp?
* Does your child have a fever, rash, or loss of appetite?
* Does your child complain of joint pain?
Growing pains should hurt in the muscles, not in the joints. 
* Are your child's legs painful or tender to the touch or as you massage them?
* Do the pains interfere with your children's daily activities?
* Are the pains a result of an injury?

As we stagger half asleep into our children's room in the middle of the night, it can be easy to dismiss their complaints about leg pain. But these growing pains can be severe. A little attention will help everyone get a better nights sleep.

Do your kids suffer from growing pains? How do you treat them?
Did you ever have growing pains?


  1. I myself don't have children, but I remember having growing pains when I was 12. Everything was just so achy and painful. Luckily my mom was a nurse and there is nothing like a mothers love, and comfort to make it better!

  2. That is so true. There is nothing like a mother's love and patience. And your mom was a nurse. She would have known exactly what to do. So simple, but it makes such a big impression.

  3. My six year old has leg pains all the time, and I wasn't certain but suspected growing pains. I feel so bad when he comes in at night crying about his legs. Usually rubbing them helps but sometimes it's bad enough that I give him some Tylenol. Poor guy, I never had them so I can't relate but I have had leg cramps, which hurt, so I do everything I can for him.

  4. My 4 year old girl has just come to me with growing pains in her arms and legs. She was really upset. I can relate to her as I used to get them as a child and they are horrible. I have rubbed her hegs and gave her cuddle. So she can go back to sleep. Bless her. I know exactly how she feels. :)


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