Children are highly susceptible to unintentional injuries; in fact, for kids ages one to 14, falls and being struck by an object were the leading causes of emergency room visits in 2009-10, according to ChildStats.gov. When our children are injured, particularly if it’s in our home, we often feel responsible, even when there is no logical reason why we should be.
Experiencing guilt is a common response when our child is injured, but it’s important to remind yourself that accidents sometimes just happen – the circumstances were not in your control. Hanging on to guilt is overwhelming and unhealthy. It’s important to learn to let go of it so you can focus on ways to help your child in the present moment.
Develop a New, Positive Perspective
Unfounded guilt is a very detrimental emotion. You can begin to learn to move past that negative mindset by embracing a new perspective on the situation. A good way to start is to face it, trace it and erase it – a concept noted in a Brainline.org article adapting the work of Vicki L. Schmall, Ph.D. The concept is outlined below:
- Face it – Understand that they are called accidents for a reason. If you were part of the cause of the accident, accept that. Forgive yourself for whatever part you may have had in the injury.
- Trace it – Sometimes knowing the reasoning behind an accident can help us work through it. For instance, if your child was injured by a toy or piece of equipment, you can look into whether or not the object was defective.
- Erase it – Forgo self-blame. It doesn’t help the situation. Brainline.org reminds parents: “Carrying guilt around prevents you from being a good advocate. Letting go doesn’t mean you don’t care. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Letting go clears the way for more positive feelings, like joy and serenity.”
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Strategies for Eliminating Guilt
There are a few things you can do to get rid of the lingering feelings of guilt you may have after your child’s injury. Parents can use several strategies for effectively letting go of guilt. For example, accept that you can’t undo the past, and then move on. Dwelling on feelings of guilt can be detrimental to helping your child now.
It also can help to speak with someone you trust about the guilt you’re experiencing. Get if off your chest and get support. A friend, a family member or a professional counselor might help.
Focus on Helping Your Child Now
The best thing you can do to dissipate guilt is to focus on the present moment. What can you do now that would help your child the most? You can get your child the best medical care possible, add safety features to your home, and help him or her through recovery.
If your child’s injury was the result of a defective product, someone’s negligence or a dangerous medication, you can consult a lawyer and pursue restitution. Being proactive, seeking answers and closure, and making the best of a bad situation can help ease your mind of the weight of guilt.
Also be sure to check out our Parents’ Corner, where we offer Florida parents plenty of other helpful tips and articles.