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Children's Health

Coping Emotionally After a Burn

Coping with changes after a burn

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

Your whole family has experienced a crisis as a result of the burn, the hospital stay, and the disruption of home life. Children are affected not only by how a crisis affects their own lives, but also by their parents' and siblings' 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 and how you help him or her manage 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. Don't punish your child for symptomatic behavior.

  • Expect immature behavior, changes, problems, and anger.

  • Talk with your child often. Don't assume that if he or she has not mentioned it, it's 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 trouble coping. Seek professional counseling if you and other family members are feeling depressed and overwhelmed.

  • Encourage your child to express opinions, suggestions, and solutions. If you do this, be ready to respect your child's comments, even if you don't agree with them or they are upsetting.

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

  • When your child is healthy enough, arrange for his or her close school friends to visit.

  • Make time for other children in the family. Many times healthy siblings become the "forgotten" family members.

  • Monitor your child and your other children for signs of depression, new fears, separation anxiety, loss of interest in activities, and sadness. Discuss with your doctor if these occur. 

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

  • Tell the school. Talk with your child's teachers. Your child may qualify for special legal protections and educational help through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Civil Rights Act. These can help your child make a successful transition back to school.

  • Participate in support groups for you and your child. Find support groups for siblings.

  • Many burn centers have summer burn camps for burn victims and their families. Resources can be found through the International Association of Burn Camps.

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

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

Online Medical Reviewer: Eric Perez MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2019
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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