Getting behind the wheel of a car at long last can be amazing for any teen. The chances are that they’ve spent the majority of their teenage life, and perhaps even longer, wishing for this moment. Hence why, when teens finally come of age, most parents are all too happy to pay for their driving lessons, or get them their first car.
Unfortunately, for many families, this life-affirming experience can soon turn into a threat to life, especially when we consider that teenagers are ten times more at risk of being involved in a fatal car accident. It’s a frightening reality and, if your teen is involved in a crash and comes out the other side then, believe it or not, you’re one of the lucky ones.
Yet, even a non-fatal car accident at this young age can have a huge impact on your teen’s life and mentality, and the road to recovery can be incredibly long. In these instances, it’s essential to keep on offering the support that your teen needs, including looking out for the following signs that, whether they say as much or not, they’re having some difficulty moving past what’s happened.
They’re avoiding getting behind the wheel
After your child has been in an accident, you may be all too willing to let them avoid driving for the rest of their lives, but this isn’t realistic, and honestly, it isn’t helpful. In this instance, it’s most important to remember how hard your teen worked to get their license, and bear in mind that, the longer they spend not driving, the less likely they ever will again. Worse, the fact that your teen isn’t getting back behind the wheel even a month, year, or more after their accident is a clear indicator that they haven’t processed or worked through what’s happened the way they probably should. This can lead to lasting trauma which, as well as keeping them from their driving dreams, could come back to haunt them. As such, as much as their not driving probably suits you right now, it’s always worth gently encouraging them to take small drives, even if it’s just on your private land to start with. At the very least, sitting them down and trying to understand what’s keeping them from driving again ensures that you can both better understand what’s happening, and seek appropriate help.
They’re more withdrawn
Teenagers aren’t great at opening up at the best of times, but if they’re even more withdrawn after an accident, then it’s a sure sign they’re somehow struggling below the surface. Often, these struggles will be based on the mental impact of their crash, though, of course, you should always check whether any ongoing physical injuries are getting them down first and foremost. The physical impact of a crash can be long-lasting, hence why it’s possible to sue for pain and suffering in the wake of an accident like this. If you have any suspicions that your teen is keeping quiet about physical pain, then it’s crucial to encourage them towards medical assistance to ensure they avoid any lasting damage.
Even if all medical injuries are clearing up as they should, your teen’s sudden silence could be a clear indicator of mental upset that’s outside of the realm of teen angst. Again, talking them through things here can help but, if you find that they still won’t open up to you, then it’s always worth seeking professional therapy or other such outlets, which can help them to get those bottled up emotions out into the open so that, finally, they can start moving forward with their life.
They aren’t sleeping well
Another sure sign that a crash has crushed your teen’s confidence or wellbeing is the fact that they aren’t sleeping well. Again, this can be a difficult one to judge, because it’s not unusual for teens to prefer nocturnal hours but, if you regularly hear your teen up in the night, or if they begin to look tired, then it’s always worth taking action.
Given that a lack of sleep can make physical and mental struggles harder to deal with, you’ll want to address this issue head-on, asking your teen what’s happening, and providing them with tools that could help, such as mediation, bedtime teas, or just encouraging them into a better night routine. In extreme cases of post-traumatic insomnia, medical assistance can help to encourage sleep in the immediate aftermath, while simultaneously attempting to overcome the issue at hand.
They don’t want to talk about it
Sometimes, a teen can seem okay in the aftermath of an accident like this but, if they refuse to talk about what happened or address it in any real way then, again, it’s a sign that their recovery isn’t going quite as well as it might seem on the surface. This is especially worrying for their long-term recovery and, while it’s tempting to let them carry on avoiding the issue if they seem happy to do so, it’s never a good idea in the long run.
The simple fact is that no one can come out of an auto accident entirely unscathed and, for teen’s especially, an incident like this can really shake up some unpleasant emotions/fears, even if those feelings lay dormant for quite a while. The only way to ensure that the impact of such emotions doesn’t gain momentum is to encourage your teen to face them head-on, having conversations about the accident even if your teen resists, or at least encouraging them to talk about it with a professional or someone outside of the family unit. It can seem like tough love, but it’s amazing how transformative talking in this way can be for recovery, and happiness, moving forward.
A car accident can be crushing for entire families, but for a teen especially, an incident like this can have lasting impact if you don’t rally around and make efforts like these to aid recovery that really lead to a healthier driving future.