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Post-accident emotional trauma and red flags in children

You're involved in a car accident with your kids in the car. They are hurt, but the physical injuries heal. What you're worried about, though, is the emotional trauma.

An accident is certainly a traumatic event, likely the most traumatic that your kids can remember. It's important to know what red flags to look for.

If your children are teens, for example, they may have trouble sleeping or suffer chronic nightmares. Their behavioral habits may change, perhaps making them more reckless or leading to conflicts with friends. They could also deal with clinical depression or physical issues like frequent headaches.

Younger kids, between the ages of 6 and 11, may also have nightmares and trouble sleeping. You may notice their behavior change for no reason, especially at school, and they could become very withdrawn when they used to be outgoing. Many have issues paying attention and it can impact their ability to learn.

It can be hard to tell when even younger children are suffering since they may be too young to communicate it effectively, but many parents see behavior regressions in those under 5 years old. For instance, a child who has not sucked his or her thumb in years may start doing it again. Kids may also become very clingy or suffer from separation anxiety.

Naturally, the trauma could be connected to how bad the accident was. For example, if a loved one was killed in the wreck and the children survived, it can have a dramatic impact on the kids who witnessed it.

If you or your children are suffering in this way, professional therapy and other such treatment may be needed. It's wise to find out if you have a right to compensation for these costs, along with the costs of the physical injuries.

Source: Psych Central, "Parenting after Traumatic Events: Ways to Support Children," Joy D. Osofsky, accessed June 09, 2017

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