Child Safety Tips

Handling a Childhood Accident

Childhood accidents will happen, and even the most vigilant parent cannot prevent them.
Childhood accidents will happen, and even the most vigilant parent cannot prevent them.
Publications International, Ltd.

The world opens up for a newly crawling baby. As excited as you may be about this stage of your infant's development, it is also a period filled with incredible anxieties for you. No matter how adept you are at safety proofing, and no matter how vigilant you are in supervising your baby's activities, childhood accidents will inevitably happen.

When they do, it is important for you not to overreact. Despite their small stature and delicate appearance, babies actually are rather hearty creatures. Although they may scream and carry on a great deal when they first experience a bump or scrape, within a few minutes, they probably will resume whatever it was they were doing, with the unpleasant incident largely forgotten.

On the other hand, no matter how slight the damage to your baby, you are likely to continue suffering for quite some time. This response is normal and natural, but you should make an effort to keep it from getting out of hand. If you go overboard in trying to make sure that another accident will never happen, you probably will do little more than make yourself crazy. More importantly, overprotectiveness usually results in overrestriction and oversupervision. The advantages that your baby will gain in physical safety probably will pale in comparison with the disadvantages he'll suffer in terms of reduced opportunities to explore and investigate independently.

Toddlers, too, have a natural enthusiasm and sense of adventure that could get them into trouble. When older children are involved in accidents, you should use the accident as a teaching tool. In a positive, constructive manner, you can teach your child how to avoid getting into similar trouble again.

Take this time to talk to her about what happened, how it happened, what her alternatives were, what to watch out for next time, and so on. If appropriate, you may consider some form of punishment as well, such as suspending a relevant privilege if the accident occurred because of your child's negligence or direct disobedience on her part.

But, again, be very careful not to make the accident worse than it is by overreacting and terrifying your child further. Keep in mind that a cat that jumps on a hot stove once will never jump on a hot stove again -- but it won't jump on a cold stove either. In attempting to keep your older child safe, you don't want to scare her into avoiding the world; rather, you want to teach her how to deal with the world in a responsible way.

While, of course, you must do everything in your power to see that your family avoids major accidents, you should also try to relax and realize that a few bumps, scrapes, and bruises are a small price to pay for indulging your children's curiosity and allowing their minds to expand to the fullest extent possible.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

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Alvin Eden, M.D. serves as a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Weil Medical College of Cornell University in New York, New York. He is Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn. Dr. Eden is also the author of a number of child care book, including Positive Parenting and Growing Up Thin.

Dr. Elizabeth Eden, M.D. is a practicing obstetrician with her own private practice in New York City. She serves as an attending physician at the Tisch Hospital of the New York University Medical Center, as well as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the New York University School of Medicine.