Danielle Ford, MS, CCLS, CPST

Arizona Burn Center at Valleywise Health answers:

Talking to your child about your accident can be intimidating and sometimes scary. Parents will express that they are afraid of saying the wrong thing and want to protect their child. Through honesty and family support, we find that children have a strong resiliency and want to be a part of their parent’s journey. Below are some tips for navigating your burn survivor journey with your children:

  • Have support
    • Rehashing an experience that was traumatic for yourself might be difficult for you to share, as you might still be processing the event. Wherever you are in your coping journey, have a trusted friend, family member, or your partner present to provide you support during this conversation.
  • Gauge your child’s understanding
    • Ask your child, “can you tell me what you know about my accident?”
      • This question can be a launching point for you to provide clarity to misconceptions or affirm their understanding. Parents find that they might know more than what you anticipated.
  • Honest communication
    • While sharing, it’s important to remember that your child might share your story with their friends too, as they are coping with their own experience of the accident.
    • Having concise and honest information allows the child to still understand what is being shared and build trust with them in the process.
      • If you needed to undergo any grafting procedures, it’s encouraged to share this information with your child as well. Stating something like, “The doctors took good skin from this part of my body and placed it on my burned skin to help it heal” can help explain appropriately what autografts are.
  • Support for your kids
    • Contact your child’s school to inform them of the accident so teachers are another avenue of support and advocacy for your child.
    • Rehearse a response with your child for when they would like to talk about your story to other kids or when they would not.
    • The Arizona Burn Foundation also has support opportunities for children who are experiencing similar challenges such as support groups and camps.