Children's Health and Wellness

Coping Emotionally

Coping with changes following a burn

Your child will be very happy to once again be with his or her toys, friends, school, and family. However, your child's burn care and emotional recovery will continue when you leave the hospital. Along with the excitement, you and your child may also feel uneasy about what will happen next.

Your entire family has experienced a crisis as a result of the burn, the hospitalization, and the disruption of home life. Children are affected not only by how a crisis impacts their own lives, but also by their parents' reactions to the situation. Below are some important strategies for helping families cope with the stress of the child's injury, treatment, and return home:

  • Try to set up a daily routine that includes some of the daily activities you did before your child's injury.

  • Take things one day at a time. Make simple goals every day; be proud of your child's daily achievements.

  • Take care of yourself as a caregiver of your child.

  • Remember, the way your child comes through this situation will largely be determined by the way you handle it. Your child can be stronger as a result of this experience.

  • Understand your child's level of development. Be on the lookout for symptoms. Do not punish your child for symptomatic behavior.

  • Expect regression (immature behavior), changes, problems, and anger.

  • Talk with your child often. Do not assume that if he or she has not mentioned it, it is not on his or her mind. Tell the truth. Tell your child how you feel, but be careful not to overwhelm your child if you are having difficulty coping.

  • Encourage your child to express opinions, suggestions, and solutions.

  • Reassure your child of the normalcy of his or her feelings. Expose your child to other children of the same age with the same problems.

  • Monitor your child for signs of depression, development of new fears, separation anxiety, loss of interest in activities, and sadness. Make sure to discuss with your doctor if these occur. 

  • Encourage your child's development of competence and independence.

  • Inform the school. Talk with your child's teachers.

  • Participate in support groups for you and your child.

  • Many burn centers have summer burn camps that can be found through International Association of Burn Camps

  • Let others help you. Seek professional help if necessary.

  • Reassure your child of your love, support, and constancy.

Online Source: American Psychological Associationhttp://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/children-trauma-update.aspx
Online Editor: Geller, Arlene
Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 5/25/2013
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