How do I help my child cope with my spouse’s brain injury and personality changes?

When a parent suffers traumatic brain injury, it not only changes the parent, it affects the entire family. You may already know this if your spouse suffered a traumatic brain injury and is just returning home in Riverside after a lengthy hospital stay.

How Children Are Affected by a Parent With a Brain Injury

A child of a traumatic brain injury patient faces special challenges as he deals with the mental, behavioral, emotional, and physical changes in his mom or dad. Being aware of these issues can assist you in helping your child with:

  • Lack of understanding. A child may have a harder time making sense of the changes in his parent and may secretly worry that he somehow caused the injury. You will need to explain to your child why his mom or dad is acting differently and reassure your child that the problem was not caused by him.
  • Difficulties relating to the parent. A child could have difficulties bonding with a parent who is exhibiting behavioral changes or severe physical limitations due to brain damage. He may even becoming fearful of the parent. You will need to reassure your child that his mom or dad is still his parent, but may act differently because of the brain injury.
  • Role changes in the family. Even young children may be required to take on more household responsibilities as the family copes with caregiving duties for the parent with brain damage. For an older child, this could almost be a role reversal where he becomes more of the parent. For a younger child, he may no longer get the attention and nurturing he once did and feel rejected and insecure. You will need to be certain that your child does not feel like a mini-adult and that you don’t give him too many responsibilities.
  • Problems with being teased or bullied at school. A child may be stigmatized or bullied by other children at school because his parent is “different.” Your child may not want to discuss this with you for fear of causing you more stress and may try to unsuccessfully resolve the difficulty himself. This could often result in problematic behaviors and doing poorly at school. You may need to intervene and get your child’s teacher to help stop this insensitive teasing.
  • Feeling neglected by the caregiver parent. For the non-injured parent trying to cope with taking care of the partner with brain damage and everything else—often while working—it can be very stressful and all-consuming. Your child could feel rejected and resentful when he gets less of your attention. Share what you can of your own feelings and your limitations and reassure your child that you still love him just as much.

A child can experience many problems—anxiety, worry, depression, and fear—as he copes with the changes in his family life. If you notice your child feeling these emotions, you may want to consult with a professional to help him work through them.

If your spouse or child has suffered a traumatic brain injury, you may be entitled to compensation for his medical expenses, lost wages, and more from the person or business that caused your family member’s brain damage. Fill out the online form for a free consultation and remember, we offer free home and hospital consultations.

Peter Steinberg, Esq.
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982