Every parent wants nothing more than to be able to protect their children. Though you may realize that protecting your child from everything is virtually impossible, you do your best to shield them from some of life’s harsh realities. When unforeseen circumstances, such as a bad car accident, take place, the best thing you can do for your child is help them to deal with the emotion of it all.
If you’re dealing with a serious accident in which you, your children, or your vehicle were harmed, you may be entitled to collect compensation. As you focus your attention on helping your children to get past the psychological effects of an accident, it is imperative that you put things in motion to protect your family financially. Speaking with a local car accident lawyer is often the best solution. Once you’ve gotten a reputable attorney on your side to fight your case, you can breathe a sigh of relief as you tend to the needs of your children.
How Does Your Child React?
Every child will have a different reaction to being in a car accident. While some children will be more resilient and bounce back without much issue, others may feel afraid, traumatized, or even anxious. Before you can truly help your child, you must pay attention to the signs of distress, anxiety or fear. Below is a general list of how children in different age groups react to traumatic events:
Age 0 – 5 Years
During this age range, children tend to revert back to old behaviors (in other words, things they outgrew or stopped doing). This may include:
- Bed wetting
- Sucking the thumb
- Fear of others
- Bad dreams
- Aggressive or withdrawn behavior
Age 6 – 19
If your children are in this age range, they may show some of the same signs as younger children, but often react a bit differently. Some of the signs to look out for include:
- Poor school performance
- Aggressive behavior
- Denial/agitation when asked about the event
- Physical aches and pains
It is important to understand that these reactions to a traumatic event are normal and may pass with time. However, if your child continues these behaviors for several weeks, chances are they need a little extra help with getting past the psychological effects of the accident.
Helping Your Child Cope Emotionally After an Accident
After you’ve cared for their physical wounds or issues, it is imperative for you to have a talk with your children about what happened. Even if they don’t display any of the above mentioned signs, children can be very good at hiding their feelings and as the parent it will be your job to at least address it and let them know you’re there to assist them. Below are tips to talking to children in different age groups:
Children Age 0-5 Years Old
Children age 0-5 years old are really looking to their parents, teachers, and caregivers to provide them with some TLC. They want to be around the people they feel safest with after a traumatic event. Therefore, you want to try as best you can to give them kisses, hugs, and your undivided attention. Other tips include:
- Focus on them and not the accident – too much talk about the event can make it challenging to get past.
- Speak with them in a calm and gentle voice that they feel drawn to.
- Let them know that you’re there for them and that you’ll continue to care for and protect them as best you can.
Children Age 6 – 19 Years Old
This age range is a bit different. While they still look to mom and dad for guidance and protection, they are a bit more self-sufficient and simply need reassurance from their parents that things are okay. Here are some suggestions on how to help your child after an accident:
- Express your own anxieties in relation to the accident (make sure that it’s age appropriate, as you don’t want to scare your younger children). Talk with them about how you coped.
- Try to maintain a normal routine. You can give them a break from chores and school work for a few days, but returning to normalcy is the best thing you can do for your children.
- Spend time with them doing things they enjoy.
- Encourage them to hang with friends and participate in recreational activities.
- Let them know that you’re there for them no matter what.
(If you have a high-risk driver, such as a teen in the house who was behind the wheel at the time of the accident, these tips can also come in handy.)
It likely breaks your heart to see your child going through such a challenging time emotionally. The good news is that in many instances children are back to themselves in no time. After talking with your kids about the accident, pay close attention to their behaviors. If you notice that they’re still not coping well, getting them into counseling is crucial. Keep in mind also that it will take time for this all to pass, but when it does your family will be that much stronger.