Helping your child heal emotionally after a car crash

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Car crashes can be traumatic, even when everyone escapes without serious injuries. As traumatic as they can be for adults, they can have an even greater emotional impact on children.

If your child was involved in the crash, it’s crucial to have them checked out by a doctor as soon as possible, even if they don’t appear to have any physical injuries. It’s also essential to watch for signs that they’ve suffered emotional trauma and help them with that.

Letting children talk about what happened and what they’re feeling (without catastrophizing what could have happened) and reassuring them if they’re fearful are often enough to help them move on. Let’s look at a few other things that can help.

Let them gradually get used to riding in the car again

If your child is afraid to get back in the car, start with very short trips to fun places – even if it’s a few blocks down to a park or a friend’s house. Let them take a comfort item like a toy or doll or put on headphones and listen to music.

Don’t wait too long to get back them back to their routine

You may let them sleep in your bed for a couple of nights, but don’t let it become a habit. By getting back to normal as much as possible, you’re showing your child that’s it’s important to move forward and not dwell on what happened.

Don’t let your child take the blame

Only adults were driving the vehicles involved – not your child. Maybe your child was distracting you, so you didn’t notice the other driver running the stop sign until it was too late. That doesn’t make the crash their fault. Don’t blame them or let them blame themselves.

Focus on the positives and what you can control

Help your child be grateful that you’re safe and well. Emphasize how important it was everyone was strapped in and that airbags deployed. If they’re old enough, let them see that you’re dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to get the compensation you need and that you’re repairing or replacing your car.

If your child can’t get past the trauma of the crash, it may be wise to let them talk to a therapist. As you seek compensation, you have every right to include expenses for psychological treatment in addition to your other losses.


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