DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – After Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin was severely injured on the field Monday night, Dayton Children’s Hospital is offering advice to parents to talk to their children after a traumatic event.
Bengals fan and mother of two, Sara Stephens, said usually her 8-year-old son comes with her to the games. She said because it was a late game Monday night, her son was watching from home while she was at the stadium.
“He was actually trying to Facetime us during when all of it was happening, trying to ask what was going on,” Stephens said. “He could get a sense too that something was really wrong.”
Director of Integrated Behavioral Health at Dayton Children’s Hospital Dr. Suzie Nelson, M.D. said fans see injuries in football often, but this was a significant event.
“All of the thoughts that all of us would have been having, our kids are going to have those thoughts too,” Nelson said.
Nelson said kids of all ages were watching the game Monday night, and each child may react differently.
“Based on how old they are and their own experiences with seeing things like that happen on the news or even their own experiences playing sports,” Nelson said.
Nelson said when explaining to your child what happened at the game, focus on the facts.
“That parents be able to talk with their kids very matter-of-factly about it, without, sort of, speculating on things,” Nelson said.
Then, give your child plenty of space to talk about how they’re feeling about what they witnessed.
“Create this open space that we can have with our kids to talk about things openly and honestly and be able to address their questions, their thoughts and concerns,” Nelson said.
Stephens said it’s also been a teaching moment for her and her kids.
“At the end of the day, even if you do play sports, or even if you are, you know, in a super important game, or something like that, you still have to treat your teammates or who you’re playing with like people,” Stephens said.
If this event, or any other stressful event, causes your child to not function in school, disrupts their sleep, or if they’re acting unusual, Nelson said it may be time to reach out to their doctor to get them some additional help.