Kids get hurt. That’s just the truth. But when it happens on your watch, it can be an extremely stressful and scary experience. A billion and two things run through your head – is he alright? Is that BLOOD?! What will I tell the parents?! Where are the band aids? Do I ice something like this?
The biggest lifesaver is to have an action plan in place. I’ll talk about this more in the future, but the big steps are to know who to call, know where the first aid kit is, and know how to handle multiple children while one is hurt.
When you’re actually in the situation, regardless of your preparation, there are three things you can do to make the problem a little easier to handle.
First of all, stay calm. I know that sounds ridiculous, because your natural instinct is to scream and freak out, but staying calm can keep the child from hurting themselves further. Your attitude matters in every situation, especially when a child is looking to you for support.
When I was 13, I was babysitting for two neighborhood children, an eleven year old girl and her five year old brother. We were inside singing and dancing in their playroom when I heard a loud, heart wrenching crack. The girl had broken her arm, severely. I won’t go into details, but when her father saw the photos hours later, he passed out.
It was bad.
As a young sitter, I had never experienced something like that. I handled the situation the best I could and the girl turned out fine, but I believe that my calm(ish) demeanor was the reason she ended up okay. When you stay calm, your breathing slows, and you can think clearly. That’s why it’s vitally important that you keep yourself calm.
Secondly, call for help. No matter how capable you are, if a child is bleeding, broken, or otherwise inconsolable, call someone. If it’s an emergency, call 911 or your local emergency service line. If it’s a bloody nose, call a neighbor. You do not have to be alone in caring for a hurt child. Plus, even if it’s mild, a second opinion will calm you down and help you know what to do.
Finally, call the parents. Even if it’s not necessary for them to come home, you need to be the one to tell them what happened and what you’re doing. If you’re headed to the emergency room, let them know which one. If you’re just using band aids and paper towels, tell them first thing. The worst situation is for the parent to hear of an injured child from someone other than their caregiver.
There’s not usually a lot of damaging fall out from a child being injured while you’re in charge. It happens. A lot. As long as you do what you can to keep the child safe, you shouldn’t have to worry about your job. If the injury occurred because of an unsafe working environment, however, it might be time to move on. Look for a future post about spotting a hazardous working environment.
With any luck, you’ll never have to experience a child breaking their arm on your watch. If it happens, though, I hope you’ll remember these tips and be able to handle the situation appropriately.