Dealing with a brain injury can be extremely difficult, especially when it is your child who is injured. While the recovery process can be quite challenging, you might find it more difficult if your child is very young. Although there is no one size fits all approach, here are some tips to help you support your child.
The Road to Recovery
Once your child is in stable condition and ready to start the recovery process, you might find yourself becoming anxious. This is to be expected as you will now have to talk with your child about their injury and what to expect. As difficult as it might be, you want to try to have a positive attitude, especially around your little one. Whether his challenges are physical, cognitive or emotional, he will need to see hope in you in order to help him get through recovery.
Make a Mountain Out of a Molehill
Your child’s recovery will consist of a variety of therapies in order to help him regain his normal functions such as speech, walking, et cetera. One of the best ways you can help you child do well is by being his biggest cheerleader. No matter how small the progress, making a big deal about it will help him continue to push. Even if there is no noticeable improvement, try to remain positive and encouraging at all times.
When Frustration Kicks In
Recovering from a brain injury can be a very lengthy process as it often requires the relearning of almost all cognitive skills. With so much to learn, your child can become very frustrated, scared and emotional. He might even lash out at you due to his frustration, especially if he has lost his ability to express himself. As difficult as it might be, try to be patient as your child’s life changed almost overnight. Understand that a range in emotions is to be expected, and just try to be patient and encouraging.
How To Keep Your Child Encouraged
Although you have explained to your child that his recovery can take a long time, he might still become frustrated and want to give up. In times like these, it is a good idea to draw from other challenging times in your child’s life that he overcame. For instance, if he was involved in a sport or had to learn any other skill, remind him of how it took some time but he accomplished that goal. This could be just the spark of motivation that he needs in order to keep pushing whenever he might want to quit. You could also remind him of his favorite sports hero and how hard that person worked in order to become a pro athlete.
Personalize Your Child’s Recovery Program
Therapist can only do but so much as they only know your child based off of what is in their medical file. At this challenging time, it is important that you be your child’s voice, and become a part of his recovery program. Talk with the therapists about any challenges or progress that you see outside of the therapy sessions, and feel free to offer your opinion. You know if your child is truly unable to do something or is just refusing out of frustration or depression.
Coping With Cognitive Difficulties
If your child suffers a physical injury such as a broken arm, that can be a pretty straight forward thing to overcome. However, cognitive issues such as memory loss, inability to speak, et cetera can be much more complex. This can cause your child to feel lost and frightened by not being able to communicate like before. With the help of therapists, your child can understand that his brain needs some time to heal. Understanding how his injury has affected other parts of his body can help him better cope with what has happened to him.
Preparing To Go Home
While it is important that you encourage your child, the rest of the family could use encouragement as well. If there are other children in the home, you will need to prepare them on how they should interact with your child once he comes home. There has to be a balance of being understanding without being too sensitive. The entire family must have a united front that is positive in order to help your child remain optimistic.
Home Is Not the Finish Line
It can be quite difficult to help your child understand that being home doesn’t mean he is totally healed. Continue to reiterate that healing takes time and practice, while celebrating daily wins. Although there might be some physical limitations, it is important for your child to regain some sort of normalcy. This will help him regain his confidence and remain hopeful if he feels like things are getting back to normal. Simply being able to ride his bike, even with your supervision, can help make the transition much easier.
Reconnecting With Peers
When it is time for your child to go back to school or be with friends, you might find yourself dealing with a new set of challenges. If he is still having trouble with his cognitive skills, your child’s peers might not be so understanding. This could lead to bullying and low self-esteem, which could impede his progress. For this reason, it is important that your child relearn social skills prior to being reintroduced to his peers.
Unlike other parts of the body, brain injuries can be difficult to predict as they can affect people differently. One of the biggest challenges for you might be watching your child struggle not only physically but emotionally as well. The best thing you can do is be as positive as possible and keep him informed of what is happening. Remember, the most important part of your child’s recovery is having the support and love of his family.