As any parent (or anyone who has ever been a child) can attest, nicks, scrapes, cuts, and bruises are all a part of growing up.
Combine boundless energy with still-developing physical coordination and, frankly, a lack of common sense? Yeah, accidents are going to happen.
Fortunately, most of these bumps and bruises are minor, and kids tend to be pretty resilient. Give them a children’s Tylenol, an Incredibles Band-Aid, and about 20 minutes to cry it out, and they’re back in action.
But once in a while, your child may sustain an injury that requires a little bit more time—and, crucially, patience and rest—in order to heal properly. Ankle sprains would be the classic example, but certainly not the only one. Other common kids’ injuries include injury of the growth plate in the heel (Sever’s disease), broken feet, broken legs, even muscle and ligament tears.
And that can be a big problem for parents. An athletic teenager isn’t going to want to sit around for too long waiting for an injury to heal. And young children may simply not be old enough yet to even understand why they need to rest and stay off their feet.
How do you keep your child safe, engaged, and positive during his or her recovery? There’s no perfect solution that’ll work for every kid, unfortunately. But hopefully this blog will help some.
Help Your Child Understand
The good news is that older kids will often understand their situation a little better and be able to delay their gratification a bit.
If you can explain to your kid that, yes, the situation isn’t very much fun now, but if they stay off their feet they’ll be able to heal faster, they will hopefully have the self-discipline to follow the guidelines. (They still may need a lot of loving encouragement!)
Obviously, that’s not going to work with a 2-year-old. And it might not even work as well as you’d like it to with an older child. So you might have to make up some games or stories in order to get a little buy-in from your child and get them to crawl and sit instead of stand and walk.
But through age-appropriate explanation and gentle encouragement and reinforcement, you may be able to help them understand how important rest is going to be, at least for the time being.
Keep Them Engaged
Obviously, there’s no one plan that will work for every child. Their age, interests, physical capabilities, the nature of their injury—all these things matter quite a bit. So we’re painting with a fairly broad brush here.
That said, here are some suggestions to help keep your kid busy during recovery.
Read Some Good Books
If your child already likes reading or being read to, this is a no-brainer. And it helps, of course, that reading (and being read to) is one of the most important developmental activities a child can engage in. Reading improves critical thinking skills, vocabulary, emotional reasoning and understanding, imagination, concentration … the list goes on and on.
If your child is old enough, he or she may enjoy a trip with you down to the library or bookstore in order to choose a book (or two, or three) that captures their interest.
If you need a little help choosing, try one of these resources to get you started:
- Newbery Medal and Honor Books. Since 1921, the American Library Association has been awarding the top books for kids with a Newbery Medal (1 book per year) or Newbery Honor (1-5 per year). These books tend to be most appropriate for slightly older or more advanced readers.
- Caldecott Medal and Honor Books. Also awarded by the American Library Association, but specifically for picture books.
- The Children’s Choices. Another list of the best children’s books of the year—except this time, chosen by children themselves. Co-sponsored by the International Literacy Association and the Children’s Book Council, their yearly guides are loaded with recommendations for beginning, young, and advanced readers.
Play Some Games
A little age-appropriate friendly competition—whether between child and child, child and parent, or even child and computer—can be a great way to engage the brain and relieve some stress during the recovery period.
If board games are your child’s thing, the whole family can get involved with a classic game like Clue or Trivial Pursuit, or maybe a “new classic” like Dominion, Settlers of Catan, or Seven Wonders. You might even try buying a new game and learning it together (or, perhaps more likely, have your child teach it to you if he or she has already played it at a friend’s house).
Of course, there are also video games to try, for those who enjoy a little digital entertainment. Contrary to popular belief, not all video games are centered around mindless violence—many are educational, and even those that aren’t explicitly educational may still offer cognitive benefits, according to recent research.
Still, it’s important to make sure the content is appropriate and screen time limits are established (and stuck to!).
If your child is a little less inclined toward social competition and a little more into quiet, solitary challenges, you could also make sure the game cabinet is well stocked with word searches, jigsaw puzzles, or other logic games.
This could be the opportunity your little one has been waiting for—finally, the time to paint their masterpiece!
Okay, probably not. But giving kids the opportunity for artistic self-expression and creativity can be a lot of fun—not to mention deeply rewarding.
It doesn’t have to be painting, drawing, or coloring, of course. Maybe your little one loves to play piano or guitar. Maybe she’s always been curious about learning origami, crafting, or scrapbooking. It can be especially meaningful to your child if it’s something that they choose for themselves—with a little encouragement from you here and there, of course!
It’s also a great opportunity to spend some quality time together. You might be surprised how much you can benefit from a little free creative expression after a long day at work!
Okay, we know that some kids are going to have too much pent-up energy to stay cooped up inside, sitting still, resting their injured foot while it heals.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand we can wave that will instantly complete the recovery process. Sure, we have tools like MLS laser therapy and SoftWave therapy that can make healing go a lot faster in many cases, but even that isn’t instant. Time, patience, and rest will still be necessary. This isn’t Star Trek—not yet anyway.
Still, there may be alternative ways that your child can channel that physical energy, depending on their injury and where they are in recovery. For example, they might not be able to get back on the basketball court yet, but we might approve them for lower-impact exercises like swimming or riding a bicycle.
It’s always our goal to keep kids as active as possible during their recovery process, as this ultimately is one of the best ways to keep young athletes feeling positive. Plus, it helps them keep up their fitness while they recuperate, which ultimately means they spend less time getting back into game shape.
So while injury recovery isn’t always the most ideal situation for rambunctious kids, hopefully you’ll be able to help them through it with minimal fuss. You might even have some fun!
If your child is currently suffering from a foot or ankle injury, make sure they get the care they need from the Carmel Foot Specialists. Just call the office closest to your location to get started:
- Myers Park: (704) 334-8682
- South Charlotte: (704) 542-8253