Helping Children Recover After an Automobile Accident
Motor vehicle accidents cause more than just physical trauma; they can create deep psychological wounds that take time to heal. This is true whether the child was involved in the accident, or merely if it was their loved one. Helping children recover takes time, and parents or caregivers should be prepared for the process.
Recognize the Responses
No two children are the same, and no two children respond to traumatic events the same way. You may notice emotional changes that can include anxiety and irritability. You may see physical changes such as hyperactivity or difficulty sleeping. It is common for children to experience difficulty concentrating, and many withdraw following a traumatic event. Often, once talkative children may become silent and refuse to speak about the accident.
How Long Does a Child Need To Recover?
Some children cope quickly following traumatic events. They may be distressed in the days and weeks following a car accident. Often, children will gradually adjust and return to their pre-accident selves over the first few months. But, again, it depends on the child and the severity of the accident. If the motor vehicle accident resulted in the loss of a family member or friend, this process could take years.
Routines are a vital component of the recovery process. This may involve getting children comfortable riding in a car again or easing a teen driver into getting back behind the wheel. It is also important to focus on other routines, such as engagement in after school activities, clubs, church, and other things the child enjoys doing.
Communication is also essential. Parents and caregivers should provide outlets for the child to discuss the traumatic event. This may include counseling, family meetings, and as many informal opportunities for the child to share their thoughts and emotions.
Parents play a vital role in helping their child recover emotionally. It is important to stay calm, stick to the facts, and answer all the child’s questions in a manner-of-fact approach. This helps the child feel safe and helps them feel comfortable as they process their feelings. Further, it is essential to look after yourself. Staying healthy and receiving the care you need enables you to take care of your child.
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