Create a daily schedule and routine with regular meal and bedtimes. A predictable schedule creates a sense of security.
Help your child get enough sleep, including naps if appropriate, and at night. Create an environment that promotes good sleep (calming bedtime routine, quiet, dark, no electronics, no caffeine after 2 p.m., and no homework or other activities in bed).
Help children have fun. Encourage your child to do activities and play with others. The distraction brings a feeling of normalcy.
Stay calm. Your child will look to you for reassurance. Don’t discuss your worries or fears when your child is around. Remaining calm also helps you model how you want your child to respond in stressful situations.
Listen and let your child know that it is ok to tell you how they are feeling anytime.
Acknowledge what your child is feeling. Confirm and reflect what you are hearing. For example, say “I can see you are worried” rather than dismissing their concern (e.g., “Don’t be worried” or “Why are you so upset?”).
It is ok to say “I don’t know.” Don’t worry about knowing the exact right thing to say. It’s more important your child knows they have someone they can trust who will listen to their questions and accept their feelings.
Allow children to express their feelings through play or art.
Encourage school-age children and teens to participate in their care and ask questions.
Encourage your child to communicate without judging or advising them until they ask for your feedback. Listen.
Remember your child is the same person they were before the injury.
Help your child stay connected to friends and family. Video chatting, writing letters, and visits (if possible) are great ways to stay connected and practice being in their normal environment.
Your child may feel a lack of control over their world and may deal with this by pushing limits or acting out. Be patient with your child. Maintain expectations and give them choices more often (e.g., about time, which arm, who does what part of care, etc.) to give them back some control.
Some children may feel wound care is punishment. Be honest and explain why care is needed. For example, say “The nurses need to wash and clean your foot so you can get better.”
Anxiety and pain often go together. Help your child find ways to relax, such as blowing bubbles or listening to relaxing music.
Distract your child by singing songs together or watching a video.