It’s something no parent ever wants or expects to face, but sometimes we can’t protect our children from suffering physical or emotional trauma. Accidents happen as the world can be chaotic, and even the most protective parent can’t be there to protect a child all the time. However, what we can do is be there for them when they need us most and make sure that our child receives the very best possible care and support. If your little one has been through a traumatic event and they are finding it difficult to cope, here are five ways you can help them on the road to recovery.
- Get them the best medical and professional care
Your first response is likely to involve getting them the best possible medical care from the emergency response to any ongoing care they may require. This may also include seeking help from a mental health professional who can help them to work the trauma and process their feelings. If they have been left with life-changing injuries as a result of the trauma, you may also be entitled to financial support such as compensation for brain damage or compensation to cover adaptations to your home.
- Make yourself available to listen
It’s crucial that your son or daughter knows that you are available to them should they wish to talk about what happened. However, this open-door policy at home does not mean that you should pressure them or quiz them as this can easily overwhelm someone struggling with trauma. When they are ready to talk, listen to them with your full attention, don’t interrupt them and certainly don’t try to dismiss or belittle their feelings; for example, ‘You’ll feel better soon.’
- Try to talk about the event
Over time you may be able to approach the topic of the traumatic event, but it is best to do this carefully and in small doses. When your child tries to change the topic of conversation, leaves the room or asks you to stop, take the hint and don’t push them into an uncomfortable place. Eventually, they may be able to talk in more depth, but this needs to be on their terms.
- Answer their questions (where age-appropriate)
Depending on the child’s age, they are likely to have questions about what happened or is happening. You should answer these questions truthfully but in simple language and without going into more detail than is necessary. The amount of information they can process and should be exposed to should be adjusted based on their age. For example, younger children should not be exposed to negativity on the television or in films which could bring up difficult issues.
- Don’t rush their recovery – be patient
It’s vital to remember that every child is an individual and will have their own response to trauma. Recovery will take time, and they may never completely return to who they were before the event. This does not mean that they and the family cannot lead happy and fulfilling lives, only that you may take time to adjust to a new version of yourselves.