Children are constantly getting hurt. Whether it’s falling down, getting hit by another kid, or even a small cut, your child will experience pain and trauma in the course of their day. When they get hurt, it can feel like the world is ending. It’s common for a child to hide the evidence of their injury so that others won’t know how badly they were hurt. Unfortunately, most parents aren’t equipped to comfort their children when they get hurt. They might not understand why they are crying or feeling so scared and worried about what happened. Instead of encouraging them with reassurance and patience, their parents might respond with frustration or anger.
First, make sure it’s not a severe injury
Children, especially if they’re very young or neurodivergent, have difficulty expressing exactly what’s wrong when seriously injured. Say they get injured at a playground, or you get into a minor car crash. If your child’s body language suggests that they’re hiding an injury or are particularly “out of it,” don’t assume they’re exaggerating. Take your child to the doctor’s office, contact a whiplash injury lawyer, and ensure you’re prepared for the worst. This way, you can spend the rest of your time focusing on your child and what might be wrong.
Talk to your child about what happened
After you figure out what’s wrong, it’s time to walk your child through what happened. Go through the events leading up to and after the injury. This is especially important if your child was hurt in a public place, such as at the park or store. It will give you a better idea of what caused the injury and help you figure out why they are so upset. Use the event as a teaching moment to talk about how to avoid the same injury in the future. If your child was hurt while playing football, talk about how not to tackle someone so hard that they fall.
Encourage your child to tell you more
Don’t rush your child. If they seem like they want to tell you more, encourage them to do so. If they want to stop talking, let them be quiet. Remember that sometimes children are too upset to express themselves clearly, and there might be things you don’t know. It can be helpful to ask open-ended questions, such as “What do you remember about when you got hurt?” or “What did you feel when you got hurt?” You can also ask questions that draw out what happened, such as “Who did it?” or “What did they do?”
Provide reassurance only when they ask for it
As a parent, it can be hard not to try to calm your child down when they are scared and worried about what happened. However, this can make them feel worse. They’ll feel like their boundaries are being breached or that you’re accusing them of something. Be patient and wait until your child opens themselves up for reassurance. They might do so right away or need to process the event mentally before they feel comfortable opening up to you. If your child wants to talk but also seems reluctant, be patient and persistent. Try to draw them out gently by asking questions such as “How are you feeling right now?” and “What do you wish we could do right now?”.
Offer some light activity and distraction
Kids get scared and worried about things all the time. Sometimes, a distraction and a little physical activity can help your child calm down. If your child is in the car or at home, you can try taking them for a drive or playing a game together that doesn’t have too many rules or is too competitive. You can offer to play a board game or video game. You can find a video or movie they like watching and put it on for them.
Bring your child away from the event so that when it’s time to talk about it, they’ll feel less close to it and emotional.
Injuries are something that kids are going to experience throughout their life. Still, it is vital to learn how to deal with it properly. As long as you understand the child’s boundaries and find ways to make them feel safe, a non-serious injury can turn into a great learning or bonding experience for both of you.