Auto accidents can be even more traumatic for children and young adults. Below, we’ve compiled some information on pediatric emotional injury, to help you through this difficult time.
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Children can frequently reach the wrong conclusions from a traumatic auto accident and acquire emotional injuries. A child, especially a very young one, can attempt to read the environment in order to enhance his comfort and further survival. A traumatic event like a Michigan car accident is often misunderstood as a statement about life in general, that it is uncertain, painful and precarious.
An auto accident might be internalized as a statement about the child himself, that he is somehow responsible for the personal injury he has suffered. An entire family can be affected, including the emotional injuries suffered by his parents. These psychic wounds may become significant determinants of the adult personality, so that the Michigan automobile accident can affect some child victims for life.
Some researchers believe that younger children are more likely to develop emotional injuries than older ones. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) is a common personal injury that can occur after car accidents, and it can develop at any age, including in childhood.
Emotional injuries to children may appear immediately after a dramatic auto accident or days and even weeks after.
Signs and symptoms of pediatric emotional injury can vary with age.
5 years old and younger: Typical emotional injury reactions may include a fear of being separated from the parent, crying, whimpering, screaming, immobility and/or aimless motion, trembling, frightened facial expressions and excessive clinging. Parents may also notice children with emotional injuries returning to behaviors exhibited at earlier ages (these are called regressive behaviors), such as thumb-sucking, bedwetting and fear of darkness.
6 to 11 years old: Emotional injuries in this age group may show extreme withdrawal, disruptive behavior, and/or inability to pay attention. Regressive behaviors, nightmares, sleep problems, irrational fears, inability or refusal to attend school, outbursts of anger and fighting are also common emotional injury reactions to auto accidents in traumatized children of this age. Also, a child with an emotional injury may complain of stomach aches or other bodily symptoms that have no medical basis. School work often suffers. Depression, anxiety, feelings of guilt and emotional numbing or “flatness” are often present as well.
12 to 17 years old: Adolescents in this age bracket may exhibit emotional injury responses similar to those of adults, including flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbing, avoidance of any reminders of the traumatic auto accident, depression, substance abuse, problems with peers, and anti-social behavior. Common emotional injury responses are withdrawal and isolation, physical complaints, suicidal thoughts, school avoidance, academic decline, sleep disturbances and confusion. The adolescent with an emotional injury after a car accident may feel extreme guilt over the failure to prevent injury or loss of life.
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