After a child sustains a serious injury, it is very common for the parents to be worried and concerned about their child’s well-being. In some cases, a parent may even feel angry or upset following an accident that injures his or her child. Injuries to children are heartbreaking for parents. You may be wondering why it happened, or what you could have done to prevent the accident. You may be unable to sleep and be constantly worried about how you will keep your children safe from harm in the future.
It is natural to feel overwhelmed by feelings such as these. The most important consideration is to focus on caring for your child. Depending on the extent of your child’s injuries, your day-to-day schedule and life may be completely disrupted. Your child’s speed of recovery, however, will depend greatly on you. Here are a few tips to help you cope:
If You Need Help, Ask for it.
Many people, particularly parents, attempt to try and do everything for their child without outside help. While your intentions may be good, it is important that you ask for help when you need it. Friends and family are usually more than willing to lend a hand. Whether you need assistance with grocery shopping, running errands, meal preparation, or you simply need a few moments to yourself, do not hesitate to ask for help. Your child does not need you to feel overwhelmed. You can do much more good if you are not stressed out, or feeling as if you are at your wit’s end.
Do Not Be Afraid to Take Time for Yourself.
If you are going to provide your child with the love, care and attention he or she requires, your own well-being matters. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Eating regularly is important to keep your energy levels high. This will help you think and act clearly.
Take Advantage of Your Support System.
When a child is injured, it takes a toll on the parents as well. Take advantage of your support system and talk with your family, friends, a member of the clergy, or other person you trust about your feelings. Talking about the situation can often alleviate the stress and worry you are experiencing.
Do Whatever You Can to Instill Normal Habits and Routines.
Many of us have habits and routines we have developed over the years to help us get through the day, accomplish certain tasks, and maintain order in our lives. A serious injury to a child will likely interrupt your normal routines. Doing what you can to re-establish those routines in your day-to-day activities will help to stabilize the situation. It will also help you cope with the many challenges you face with an injured child. Children can also benefit from routines and the re-introduction of activities they have always enjoyed.
Find a Natural Way to Relieve Stress.
Caring for an injured child may impose on you new tasks and duties. Not only do you need to address your injured child’s needs, but you need to try and maintain normalcy in your life and the lives of other family members. Finding natural ways to relieve stress is essential to keeping you balanced in a tough situation. Going for a walk, reading a book, doing yoga, taking a bath, or simply ensuring you get out for some fresh air are all natural ways to relieve stress. Avoid overusing caffeine, and remember that when times get tough, taking a short walk may be all it takes to regain balance in your life.
Talk to Your Child.
While you may want to avoid the topic of your child’s accident and discussions about the injuries, it can be beneficial to discuss what happened. You may need to educate your child about caring for a wound, or new ways of doing daily tasks, as well as the potential risk in certain activities. Whatever you do, try not to let your own worries and concerns cloud your judgment on what is safe for your child to do. Allow your child to get involved in activities appropriate for his or her age group, so long as they are safe and reasonable precautions are taken.
Sources of information on how to cope with an injured child:
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network: After the Injury: Helping Myself Cope (For Parents of Injured Children)
- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute: Self Care for Parents While Dealing with a Child’s Injury