car accident

Emotional Phases of a Teen After an Accident

This time of year spells the end of the school year for most of our children. Thoughts and anticipation of some respite from the rigors of academia are usually paramount to the student. For some, graduation from high school marks an important milestone, the beginning of their adulthood, and sometimes their independence from home.

In the excitement and celebratory atmosphere, many teens find themselves hurt in accidents, primarily because teenagers underestimate crash risks in hazardous situations and overestimate their driving abilities. The chances of being involved in an accident also goes up when teens have other peers as passengers in their cars. And of course, events such as graduation practice, commencement ceremonies and end-of-school parties give them the opportunities to travel with each other.

It can be very difficult for anyone to deal with the emotional trauma that is associated with being involved in an accident, that is more than a mere fender bender. But for the young driver, this problem is often exacerbated by their youth. After all, most children have a very tenuous grasp on exactly how life and death works, and it is common for them to feel somewhat invincible. Due to this, a serious injury caused by an accident can be such a traumatic event that a child could have a hard time returning to a state of normalcy. If the accident happened to involve getting tangled with a behemoth semi-truck, the experience could be even more traumatic for the young and frightened driver. Just the size of a big rig can be daunting against the size of whatever the teenager was driving.

1. Guilt – guilt is an extremely common emotion that most people feel after an accident. If the driver was the at-fault driver and others were injured, guilt can become severe and overwhelming. Help your teen’s healing process by encouraging him to admit his responsibility and atone for it. The worst thing you can do as a parent is to minimize the situation and deny his wrongdoing.

2. Fear – Many people experience fear at the scene of an accident and after. For a young and inexperienced driver, this fear can be magnified. The teen might not know the steps to take right after an accident. He might be afraid that his driving rights will be taken away. In his imagination, the teen might think that his punishment will be severe with the law. Prepare your teen for this by teaching him the steps to take immediately after an accident. Depending on his age, you might have to accompany him if he has a court date.

3. Anger – Anger is another emotion that can be very strong after an accident. Maybe there is anger from your teen because his car, which is the symbol of his independence, has been totaled. There’s the monetary loss he can be angry about too. If he was seriously injured, extreme anger can set in after he realizes that his life may not ever return to the way it was. The step to healing is to forgive the person who caused him harm. This might require extensive therapy until your child can reach that stage.

4. Anxiety  Sometimes, the emotions that a person feels after a trauma can be delayed. Your teen may become riddled with anxiety, perhaps become nervous about being in a car again, let alone get behind the wheel of one. Anxiety about dealing with injuries and recovery can become severe, especially if he will have to make any adaptations to his every day life. Therapy can be a big help in giving him coping mechanisms. Sometimes, medication can be very effective.

5. Action – After your teenager has gone through the typical emotions listed above and is further on his way to healing from the accident trauma, encourage him to take action. Assist him in finding a personal injury lawyer who can get him compensation for his traumatic experience. If the accident involved a truck, he will need an experienced lawyer because “Trucking companies have powerful insurance companies on their sides, and they may be hesitant to pay the money you deserve,” according to Cofman Townsley. Also make your child aware that the insurance company is not his friend. They will want to settle the case quickly, which is not always in your child’s best interests.

Being there to support your child’s emotional needs after an accident will help them get back to their normal routine more quickly. Keep in mind that part of his lawsuit can be centered around recovering his medical and mental health expenses. You will also be teaching him a valuable lesson – how to be proactive in times of distress.

Writer Debbie Nguyen had to instill calmness after her son’s first accident because he was so frightened that he would be incarcerated. His inexperience magnified his fear.

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ms-ito/1405565784/

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Emotional Phases of a Teen After an Accident
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