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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

Learn More

Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Understanding your emotions as a caregiver

Caring for a child or toddler suffering from Brain Injury (BI) causes a huge disruption to a family’s structure and lifestyle. Parents work extremely hard to provide home-based care for their child with BI. It’s very distressing to watch your child go through this. As a caregiver, you will wrestle with a variety of painful emotions on a daily basis. Exploring and understanding these emotions will improve your ability to cope.

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Overcoming Anger and Frustration

All parents get angry with their children from time to time. Caregivers of children with BI may get frustrated with a child who is less capable than before, or feel angry at their unfair situation. These feelings are natural, so let yourself experience and convey them in healthy, constructive ways. To be clear, shouting or yelling at your child or other family members is not a healthy nor constructive release of your anger. Still, trying to suppress anger and frustration only makes them worse.

Seek cathartic ways to express your anger. Talk about your feelings to close friends and family members. Keep a journal of your thoughts and emotions. If anger becomes uncontrollable or severely impacts your life, you may need a professional therapist to help you unravel these emotions.

Elk & Elk

Escaping Isolation

Caregivers may worry that they will never get to take a break and leave their child for even a moment. Maintain a positive attitude when dealing with these emotions. You are not obligated to shoulder the entire responsibility of care. Make a point to take a break when you can.

It is essential to find ways to reduce isolation. Keep in contact with friends and family members—call and text someone every day. Invite someone over to keep you company, even if it’s just during nap time. Even with visitors and phone calls, caregivers need time to get away. It’s okay to get someone else to watch your child for a few hours. Try to find a place that provides respite care. Find a support group for parents of children with BI in your area. If you become friends, you might offer to exchange care with another parent.

Feeling Cheated

Parents witness cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes in the child they know and love. They may feel as though the life they had with their child has been taken away from them, and their family has been cheated out of a “normal” life. Openly talk about these emotions with your family, support group, or professional therapist.

Getting through Grief

Usually, people talk about grief in the context of losing a loved one, but grief rears its ugly head in any type of personal loss. People experience grief due to a loss of health, home, status, or anything else of value. Parents may wonder why they are grieving when their child is still alive. Typically, the reason is that they miss the way things were. The child with BI will go through emotional, behavioral, and personality changes. This can lead to a sense of loss and grief for the caregiver.

There are no quick fixes to dealing with grief. The feeling tends to fade as time progresses. Letting yourself feel sad is a healthy part of the process. Talk about your feelings with friends, family members, or a counselor. Keep up a healthy routine as best you can—eat regular balanced meals, get enough sleep, avoid alcohol.

Dealing with Guilt

Guilt may come from many different places, and sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint why you are feeling this way. Parents may feel like they are not doing enough for their child with BI, or they may think they are neglecting their other children. They may feel guilty for something they did or said in anger, or they may feel guilty for the responsibilities left undone.

Don’t feel guilty about your emotions—they are a natural part of being human. You are trying so hard and doing the best you can, so give yourself some credit. If you have made a mistake, make amends as soon as possible. If you shouted at your child or family member, tell them you are sorry. Accept that sometimes you make mistakes and move on. Keep doing the best you can each day while not wallowing in the past.

Managing Stress

Caregivers have a great amount of responsibility when it comes to the care of their child with BI. As a parent, remember the upkeep of your physical and mental health allows you to better care for your child. Stress can affect your behavior, mood, and physical health. Long-term levels of high stress can suppress your immune system, leading to getting sick more often. Recognize and understand these symptoms.

  • Having low levels of energy
  • Aches and Pains, including headaches and stomachaches
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Slow decision-making skills
  • Feelings of helplessness and anxiety
  • Feeling overwhelmed

Everyone deals with these problems differently. Try some stress management techniques to see what works for you.

  • Keep a journal. Writing down your feelings can help you feel better. Over the long-term, you can look for patterns and brainstorm ways to alleviate some of the stress in your life.
  • Meditate. Practicing a mindfulness meditation technique for 10 minutes a day can help reduce stress and boost relaxation.
  • Exercise. Studies show that 30 minutes of moderate exercise three days per week is enough to provide mental health benefits. The 30 minutes don’t even have to be contiguous for the beneficial effects.