While we spend a great part of our lives trying to prevent accidents
from happening, it’s a sad fact of life that in the UK three in every 100,00
children aged between one and 14 die
every year because of them, 120,000 are admitted to hospital
and more than 2,000,000
attend A & E
departments in hospital
Whether an accident
or quite minor
, it can be upsetting
for the child concerned as well as the rest of the family.
Although the physical effects
may heal quickly, the emotional reactions
may be more long-term
and children need help
in coming to terms with their experience
too that siblings
, although not directly involved in an accident, may be just as affected
Children under 12 may:
- cry a lot;
- feel sad;
- demand more attention;
- be jealous of other children;
- have tantrums or be aggressive;
- feel embarrassed - especially if they have scars.
You may find they now wet the bed,
, are unable to sleep
or want to sleep with you. There may be changes
in the way they play,
for instance they may dig out toys they haven’t touched for years or they may be clumsy
or unusually withdrawn.
Older children may:
All age groups may feel they are continually “reliving” the accident.
What you can do to help
- feel sad or guilty;
- have mood swings;
- feel shame or embarrassment about the way they are feeling;
- fear death;
- become more reckless;
- resist authority;
- refuse to go to school.
Helping older children and adolescents
- Listen to your child’s questions and try to answer as honestly as you can, involving him in any discussions and decisions that have to be made.
- Talk about the accident if your child wants to.
- Stick as far as possible to your normal routines so your child will feel safe and secure at home.
- Play with him - children work through their feelings and things that have happened to them in their play. Encourage making up stories, dressing up and imaginative play and art, all of which will allow him to express his emotions.
- Discipline as you normally would when necessary although you may need to be more flexible for a little while.
- Provide love and support and reassurance that their feelings are natural.
- Let them know that it’s ok for them to cry and express their emotions.
- Encourage them not to make major decisions while they are still working through their reactions.
- Acknowledge the importance of the accident to him - however small it may seem to you.
- You may need help for yourself so don’t be afraid to ask for help, initially through your GP.
- Your children - especially older ones - may choose to talk to a relative, teacher or friend. Don’t feel slighted or upset be thankful that they have such good relationships.