Sometimes it seems like kids are magnets for accidents, hurtling toward sharp corners and swinging from playground equipment with reckless abandon. As a parent, your first instinct may be to keep them from these activities or to give in to fight or flight mode each time they get hurt. However, those behaviors aren’t sustainable or in your child’s best interest.
Yet, without fail, your son or daughter will get more substantially hurt at least once in their childhood. When the time comes, you’ll want to know how to cheer up a kid with a broken arm or a large gash. What can you do to comfort them and stay calm in the process? These tips will help you soothe your child every step of the way from the moment after their accident through broken bones treatment or stitches.
Responding to the Accident
Your immediate reaction to your child getting hurt is probably to freak out, but they’ll mirror your feelings. Knowing how to comfort them best when accidents happen is crucial, temporarily putting your needs on the back burner.
1. Control Your Response
Your child will get their cue from you for how to respond to the shock and pain of their accident. If you can keep your demeanor calm, it will help to ease their feelings. However, they’re more likely to panic if they see you panic. Try taking a few deep breaths to ground yourself.
2. Validate Their Emotions and Pain
It’s our instinct to reassure our kids that it’ll be ok, they shouldn’t worry and it’ll be alright. While these statements might make you feel like you’re doing something, these words only belittle the pain and fright they’re experiencing. Instead, tactfully restate what happened — “I see you fell off the monkey bars. Can you show me where you hurt?” Comfort them through their pain, allowing them to feel whatever emotions they’re dealing with.
3. Take Action
Even though you might feel helpless, your child needs you to do something, anything. Whether you hold them, stroke their back, apply a bandaid, assess the damage, or just listen to them and talk soothingly, they need you to be present and working to solve their problem.
Assessing the Injury
Once you’ve gotten past the initial reaction for both of you, you’ll need to assess the injury. Check for symptoms of fractures or breaks like severe pain, stiffness, swelling, or difficulty moving, and look for signs of large cuts. If you notice anything amiss, you may need to take them to the ER for broken bones treatment or stitches.
4. Explain What You Can
When your child is hurt, everything feels out of control for them. Instead of shielding your child from the current situation or what may be coming, share as much information as you think they can handle. As you assess their injury, tell them what you’re doing, so they know what to expect. If you realize you’ll need to go to the doctor or ER, be upfront with them about it, but keep your voice calm and reassuring, so you don’t frighten them.
5. Use Distractions
While you assess the extent of your child’s injuries, it may help to distract them from what you’re doing or from the pain they’re experiencing. Keep them talking, sing songs, tell jokes or even let them have some screen time on your phone.
Getting treatment at a hospital or doctor’s office can be incredibly frightening for a child with an injury. They’re probably still frightened from their accident and in a lot of pain. You need to know how to cheer up a kid with a broken arm or comfort them through their hurt.
6. Stay Close
One of the most comforting things you can do for your child is just to stay close to them. Hospitals and doctor’s offices tend to be overwhelming for children in the best of circumstances, especially when they’re in a lot of pain. Staying right by their side, holding their hand the entire time, is very reassuring.
7. Cater to Your Kid’s Individual Needs
You know your child better than anyone. Are they the type who’ll want to see everything that’s going on, or do they need to be distracted from blood draws and other tests? While the doctor’s job is to heal their injury, you get to heal their emotional state. You should also be prepared to advocate for any of their pain management needs.
8. Practice Calming Activities Together
Work on some deep breathing exercises with your child to keep them calm and reduce stress and anxiety. Have them blow imaginary bubbles or blow on an invisible pinwheel.
Children also enjoy using their imaginations. Have a look around at other patients or staff and work together with your kid to come up with fun stories about their lives. Being creative together will help keep their mind off the pain and situation.
Dealing With Healing
Once you get back home from the doctor or hospital, the real mending begins. Your child will need extra comfort and attention from you to adjust to their care plan and then back to life as usual. They may also be dealing with emotional trauma from the accident.
9. Use Physical Comfort
Physical comfort is especially helpful during the healing process. Your child is still probably confused about what happened and why they’re in pain. Your touch will help ground them and let them know you’re there for them. You may not know exactly how to cheer up a kid with a broken arm or stitches, but a snuggle goes a long way toward healing.
10. Establish Some Normalcy
Now that you’re home, helping your child regain a sense of normalcy is essential. They’ll soon need to get back to school and their activities, though probably in a modified way for a while. Kids thrive on routine, so get back to a regular bedtime and waking time as soon as possible.
11. But, Ease Up On Some Rules
Leave some wiggle room in the rules and routine at first. Late-night ice cream sundaes and cuddles on the couch for a whole day may be just what your child needs to feel better.
12. Continue to Validate Their Feelings
Injuries affect everyone in different ways. Make sure you give your child room to share their feelings and experience. Sometimes kids even experience post-traumatic stress from their accident — if you notice signs, you should consider taking them to talk with a child therapist. Your child will be comforted knowing you’re taking their feelings seriously.
How to Handle Your Feelings
Your child’s injuries aren’t only traumatic for them but for you as well. Remember to take care of yourself during the process so that you can be a rock for them.
1. Try Mindfulness Activities
Mindfulness activities aren’t just for your child — they can be extremely helpful in handling your own emotions during this challenging time. Try deep breathing or a body scan to ground yourself in the present moment. It may help to ease your anxiety and help you better care for your child.
2. Lean on Your Support System
Handling your child’s injury on your own is doable but much easier with support from loved ones. If you’re going to be at the hospital or doctor’s office for a while, see if someone can come to sit with you. Even calling someone on the phone when your child is away at imaging or in a procedure would be helpful for your nerves.
3. Revel in the Kiddo Cuddles
Physical touch is probably the most comforting solution for both of you. While you don’t love the circumstances of this extra time with your child, revel a bit in it. Lounge on the couch all day and soak up the snuggles if you can. It will do you and your kid a world of good.
Get Through Injuries as a Team
It takes the whole family to get kids through an injury like stitches, tests, and broken bones treatment. You and any other caregivers can use the tips above to handle your own feelings so you can be at your best to comfort your child. Include the kid as much as possible in the details of their treatment and involve them in some decisions, dependent on their age and maturity. While this is a scary time for the whole family, you can get through this together with some teamwork.
Author – Beth is the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind. She is passionate about writing about fitness, diet, fitness, mental health, and parenting. In her spare time, Beth enjoys trying out new fitness routines and recipes.