Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) may be case-by-case unique in how they are experienced by each child who suffers from them, however, many children struggle with a range of similar emotions as a result. These emotions include grief, shifts in how they relate to those around them, awareness blinders of the sudden differences in themselves, denial of the long-term impacts, etc.
Every child will have different strengths and weaknesses in handling and coping with these emotions, and that is why a parent plays a critical key role in helping their child work through these emotional changes.
During recovery from a traumatic brain injury, children may have difficulty with solving problems, memory, and self-awareness. It is normal for children to become discouraged by the speed of their recovery and they will experience an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs.
It is essential to assist them in realising that recovery is not an overnight process. Focus on daily wins, positive experiences, and successes. Remind them of the progress that they’ve already made. Emphasise a goal they worked hard to accomplish before their TBI in order to help them realize their capacity for hard work and dedication.
At the same time, remember to set realistic goals for them. It is important to avoid focusing on anything that could be considered negative but to provide constant encouragement and support.
Unlike a defined goal, however, rehabilitation and recovery have no clear or definite endpoint. This understandably leads to irritability, frustration, and fatigue. Emphasise how proud you are of them taking it one day at a time.
Keep in mind that some children work double time to regain skills they may have lost, while others may lack awareness of any deficits resulting from their TBI. In either case, it is important to continually communicate with them about how you’re both feeling. Keeping these lines of communication open is important in building and maintaining trust, as well as helping to instill a sense of responsibility within them. It is a good thing to encourage their independence and confidence.
As much as a child should be encouraged, it is also important to remember that as a parent you must also take recovery one step at a time as it is a lifelong process.