You’d like to shield your children from any harm, but unfortunately, life doesn’t always go that way. Accidents happen every day, and unfortunately, it can happen to the ones we love the most. Whether your child is a teen who was involved in a car accident, or a tiny tot in the back seat when it all took place, it can have a lasting psychological effect on them. The good news is that children are resilient and typically bounce back – they just need extra love and attention from their parents.
Get Help for Yourself
Your children are your pride and joy and the very thought of them being hurt in any way is likely doing damage to your own health. In order to help them get through this, you will first need to get help for yourself. Some resources for help would include:
- A Therapist – speaking with a therapist can help you to deal with your own emotions. We as parents tend to mask what we’re feeling to spare our children, but to be quite honest your kids pick up on that pint up emotion. Let it out with a therapist who can help you and also give you tools that can help your children.
- An Attorney – financially speaking an accident can have a lot of backlash. From repairing the damage to medical bills and time out of work, there can be a lot to deal with. Talking with a personal injury lawyer will give you some insight on whether you can be compensated for the accident. It will also relieve some of the stress you might have been under so that you can be the best parent possible.
Getting the Kids Through
Once you’ve started working on yourself and your own feelings, you can begin to tend to the needs of the children. Here are some tips:
- Be there to listen but don’t force it – You should never pressure your children into talking about what happened until they’re ready to do so. When they’re ready to talk about it, be there to listen and provide age appropriate answers.
- Talk about it in small doses – While talking can help your children sort through their emotions, drudging it up more than they’re willing to talk about it can make matters worse. Just bring it up as they’re willing to talk and when they’re ready to stop – stop. Small conversations are often bigger than larger ones as they’ll need to process the information.
- Never underestimate what your child comprehends – we like to assume that our children are naïve and don’t understand realities, but they just might surprise you. Make sure that you’re answering their questions completely and truthfully so that they get accurate facts from you. Trying to shield or shelter them from certain subject matters that might come up will only hinder their ability to cope.
Know the Signs of PTSD
While children are resilient, there are times in which an event is simply too traumatic to get over on their own (or with your help). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can often occur in children who’ve dealt with a serious event such as a car accident. Pay attention to your children and if you notice these signs listed below, you’ll want to get them to a therapist for further help.
School-Aged Children (5-12)
While adults with PTSD often have flashbacks or issues remembering the event, this may not be the case with school aged children. They may instead believe that when certain “signs” come about that another traumatic event is going to happen. This may essentially cause them to avoid certain things that they believe are triggers. You might also notice your children acting out the events through their play. This might include reenacting the events with their toys.
Teens, of course, are right in the middle of school-aged children and adults and will have a variation of both symptoms. They may try to block out images, have nightmares, avoid certain triggers, and so forth. However, teens with PTSD may also act out behaviorally in an impulsive and aggressive manner.
The road to recovery can be a windy one. There will be days where your children are fine and days when they’re simply not themselves. The best thing you can do for them as a parent is be there for them in their time of need and reassure them that they are safe. If you notice signs of PTSD or other mental disorders after an accident, it is very important that you get them to a therapist so that they can learn new methods for coping and moving on with life.