When your child seems to get a lot of bumps and bruises — more than what you think is typical — your first instinct may be to shrug it off. He or she must just be a little clumsy or accident-prone, right? But what does that really mean? And should you really dismiss it so easily?
When you (and your child) have finally made it through the toddler years — tantrums and all — you may think that you are through the accident-prone years, too. You might be… but maybe not.
If your child has grown out of the toddler years and into school age, and continues to seem “accident-prone,” he or she might facing a whole new set of issues — or the same old issues in a less obvious form.
Physical development issues
Just as when your child went through developmental bursts during the toddler years, he or she is going through developmental bursts and growth spurts right through later childhood and adolescence. And just as in the toddler years, these developmental bursts affect motor skills that in turn could make it seem that your child is somehow more prone to injury.
If your child seems to have a greater-than-usual number of scrapes and bangs, look at the big picture. Is he or she exhibiting other signs of a growth spurt or developmental burst? Has sleep or appetite been at all different from their norm? If so, being “accident-prone” may be a short-lived phase. Your child may get through this growth phase and grow right back into his or her normal coordination.
Should the injury tendency get worse over time, however, it might be time to consult your child’s pediatrician. Trust your gut instinct, and check for any underlying issues when appropriate.
Emotional development issues
Just as in adults, sometimes a tendency toward injury is a symptom of being exceedingly distracted, particularly at busy and emotionally intense times of life.
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Kids are not insulated from this kind of stress just because they are kids; a period of being accident-prone could be a signal that your child is distracted and preoccupied with issues that may be simmering below the surface. If there’s been upheaval in the family recently, for example, or a difficult situation at school, it may manifest itself in such unintentional injuries.
And while evidence in formal scientific studies is hard to come by, some physicans seem to believe that kids with ADHD are particularly accident-prone. This doesn’t mean that your accident-prone child has ADHD, but if the injury tendency is not short-lived and there are other signs, it may be something to discuss with your child’s pediatrician.
No matter what your child’s age and stage, little bumps and bruises happen. If they happen frequently, keep an eye on them — and know when to ask for help from medical professionals.
More child development tips
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- Your 7-year-old: Development, behavior and parenting tips