Youth sports injuries are an unfortunate, but inevitable part of any young athlete’s playing journey. Obviously, the severity ranges from out-for-one-game to out-for-the-season or even out-for-the-year.
When an injury requires a longer recovery period, here are some ways you can help your child deal with the injury and the disappointment it brings.
Get a Positive Diagnosis
The obvious first step is to get a definite diagnosis if your child is suffering through an injury that lingers and doesn’t seem to be healing. It will be better for you and for your athlete if you know exactly what you are dealing with. The uncertainties – When will it heal? Will they need surgery? – add to anxiety.
Find a Doctor Who Knows Sports
Craig Bennett, director of sports medicine at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, recommends that parents find “a health care professional who understands that there must be a plan for returning to play. If you heal and return to play without restrengthening, you are at risk for re-injury.”
Craft a Game Plan
Work with the doctor and physical therapist to establish a plan for treatment, resting, and strength-building exercises.
Track it on a calendar so your child sees progress. They need to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Meanwhile, they are not just sitting idly by, hoping for recovery; they are doing something about it.
Your Support is Important
Talk with your child about their frustrations and empathize with their feelings. Support them as they work hard to return to sports, even as you help distract them from the injury by encouraging them to pursue other interests they can participate in while on injured reserve.
Encourage Continued Participation
If at all possible, have your child still attend practice and sit on the bench at games. They are still part of the team and can still be a leader even on the bench. One of the hardest parts of being injured for your child is not feeling like they are part of the team. Staying closely involved with help with that.
This Too Shall Pass
This is a phrase that we told our kids—and ourselves—often. Obviously, an injury to an athlete is devastating, but it does not have to signal the end of sports as long as the doctor agrees. Your child will heal and get back into the game. And remember that trying to hurry this process is not a good idea. Let your child take the required time to heal and think long-term. One missed season out of many will not hinder their long-term success.