Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

How to Help Children Overcome the Trauma of a Car Accident

Naturally, car accidents are traumatic—especially for children. Often, these kids not only experience their own injuries, but they see that their caregivers, mom and dad, usually, can also get injured. This makes a child feel insecure because they need their parents to survive. If this survival is threatened, it can turn a child’s world upside down. If your child has experienced a car accident, he/she will need help to recover. Here are a few ways that you can help him or her get over the trauma:

1. Learn to Recognize Trauma Signs

According to Psych Central, parents should be on the lookout for behaviors that indicate that their child is not recovering from the trauma. Parents can look for symptoms of trauma. In younger children it can mean that they go back to more “infantile” behaviors like bedwetting or sucking their thumbs. For older children, symptoms can include nightmares, behavior problems, depression symptoms, and headaches.

2. Listen to Your Child

Adults sometimes feel that kids don’t fully understand the effects of their trauma, but cautions parents to think differently. Parents should be prepared to listen to any concerns or complaints that a child has about an accident. Sometimes even small conversations can lead to big revelations later on. This can help with recovery.

3. PTSD Awareness

While most children will recover from an accident on their own, it’s important for parents to know that they can develop PTSD from an accident. If your child experiences PTSD symptoms like flashbacks, anxiety, or nightmares, it’s important to tell him or her that it’s normal. It’s also important to try to get back to the normal routine as much as possible. Finally, be aware that your child may not recover without some therapy. Let your adjustment period after the accident be your guide. If you feel like your child needs some extra help to cope with the situation, then get it.

4. Get Legal Help

Trauma therapy can become can be costly. If you’re finding that the person who injured your child in the accident isn’t stepping up to pay for the trauma that they have caused, you may need to exercise your legal options. However, you may have trouble proving liability. If that turns out to be the case in your child’s accident, it might speed things along to hire an attorney, such as one from Clearfield & Kofsky.

Children can recover from car accidents if they have your help and support. Some of this support just comes from listening. However, some children need additional help in the form of mental health therapy. Finally, it’s okay to reach out for help after your child has experienced an accident. Whether it’s mental help or legal help, getting outside advice can speed up recovery times for your child and help lessen the strain on you as the caregiver.

Tim Esterdahl

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