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After a car accident, my daughter is too nervous to be in a car. How can I help?

"Recently both of my daughters were in a car crash where my husband fell asleep at the wheel.  It was a quite nasty crash.  My eldest daughter age 8 is now very fearful of being in the car. She wants everybody to be quiet and continually tells me to focus. It's as though she is in control of the driving but not
actually driving herself.  Are there ways we can help her? I wasn't in the car at the time of the accident and my husband cannot drive because of his fractured hand and arm. We live in the countryside and we rely on the car a lot. My youngest age 6 doesn't seem to be affected by the accident however she wasn't injured either so that may have something to do with it. My eldest has a cast on her arm. If there are any strategies you could share with our family I would be grateful."

Asked anonymously via email.

In Topics: Parenting / Our Family, Children and stress, Car safety
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Dr.Monika
Mar 4, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Your daughter's response is natural and falls under the description of the post traumatic stress disorder. You can try to decrease her fear by starting to take her on very short car trips and gradually increase the length of those trips.  If that does not help or if your daughter's fear of being in a car intensify, seeing a counselor might be necessary to help her deal with what had happened.

Best regards.
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Additional Answers (3)

dgraab
dgraab , Parent writes:
Hi, I'm very sorry to hear about your family's car accident.

Adding to the Expert answer you received, here are some relevant informational resources you may also find helpful in supporting your family members as they heal from this trauma...

Children's Resilience in the Face of Trauma
http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Childrens_Resilience/

Coping With Trauma: Anxiety and Fear are Normal Reactions
http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_COPING_TRAUMA/

I also suggest talking to your daughter's pediatrician for referral to a family counselor or child psychologist, to help your daughters (and husband) in healing emotionally from this accident.

Thank you for asking!
> 60 days ago

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juniperberry
juniperberry writes:
Thank you so much for your replies.  I have also spoken to her school who are also helping us.
> 60 days ago

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TheMediatrician
TheMediatri... , Parent, Child Professional writes:
Dear JuniperBerry,
So glad to see that referring you to JustAsk was able to get you some good answers.  It's wonderful that your school has been helpful!  Continued good wishes for this situation getting better with time and your help.
Best,
Dr. Michael Rich
The Mediatrician®
> 60 days ago

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