“I’d rather go to summer school than go to school on crutches”.
Embarrassment. Studies have shown that teens fear being embarrassed more than anything else. While adults may have difficultly relating to this real emotion, it helps explain everything from peer pressure to why “I’m not going to school on crutches“. While putting school on hold 4 to 12 weeks till you’re back on both feet is not an option, there are things you can do to deal with the situation.
Talk with the school The principal and staff are used to having students on crutches. There are things they can routinely do to help students recovering on one foot. Everything from being dismissed early from class to avoid the rush in the hallways or granting access to the “teachers only” elevator. Teachers and coaches can also be good monitors that the student stays off their foot. A word from a respected teacher or coach can go further than another lecture from a parent or doctor.
Ensure the teen understands why. Rebellion is normal and just because a parent or doctor says they must stay off their healing foot doesn’t mean it will happen. The teen needs to understand why it is important to them. They also need to grasp the possible outcome if they don’t stay off their broken foot: a longer recovery, surgery or another surgery, or a poor outcome. Make it clear and applicable to them. “If you don’t stay off your foot you won’t be able to play football next year either.”
Connect with other teens going through a similar challenge. While they may think they are the only person at school on crutches, you know there are thousands just like them. Visit safe online communities like My Broken Leg where they can go to chat with others recovering on one foot. Even a Facebook has a fan page for “I hate crutches”. This connection will help them realize they are not alone and allow them to share tips and trick to make recovery easier.
Turn an ugly injury into a work of art. Remember when you could have everyone sign your plaster cast? Now that they are made of fiberglass they are much lighter but harder to personalize with a marker. Instead decorate your cast with Casttoo’s. From you favorite sport, to flowers, to the Tattoo they want to get, Casttoo’s make for happy healing. You can even decorate your crutches with Shrinkins.
The big reveal. Don’t make the bus stop or the front door of school the dramatic surprise. Instead have your teen invite a few friends over to your home prior to going to school. This positive reinforcement in a controlled environment will help ease the fear of school.
What seems like a major drama today can become a happy memory. Working together with your teen will help their recovery and everyones peace of mind.