Recurrent pains in childhood are those that occur at least three times within three months and interfere with daily activities. The most common reasons for pain are headaches and abdominal pain, and the great majority of these have no serious or treatable physical cause. Instead, a functional analysis of the antecedents and consequences of the pain for the child is needed. This requires time, trust, rapport and acceptance, as well as the development of a shared biopsychosocial understanding of the pain. Some interview questions are suggested for this purpose. These include questions about the physical and social triggers of pain episodes, such as stress at school or at home, and modelling of pain behaviour by family members. Also included are questions about the adverse consequences of pain, such as sleep problems, difficulty in concentration, avoidance of responsibility and of feared situations, and inadvertent reinforcement of pain behaviour by solicitous behaviour on the part of parents. Among the numerous interventions for recurrent pain, those that promote learning of relaxation skills are the best established. A cognitive-behavioural, biopsychosocial approach to treating recurrent pain is well supported by research evidence. Primary care physicians and paediatric consultants can help to prevent and relieve children's recurrent pain.