Broken Arm Chronicles: Things Your Child CAN Do to Feel Independent

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I’ve been a mom for ten years. Within those ten years, we have had many minor injuries, one false alarm trip to the emergency room, and zero broken bones. Until last week. My family’s healthy streak was ruined, with my youngest daughter’s broken arm. OUCH.

My youngest is a risk taker, adventure seeker, and a gymnastics fanatic. While practicing a back handspring during her twice-weekly class, she landed wrong and broke the two bones in her forearm: the radius and ulna. Moms, I will spare you the details, but my daughter’s arm looked like it belonged to Gumby. After a ride in the ambulance, several x-rays, bone setting and many hours in the ER, her arm was put in a splint and sling and we were sent home with a soft cast and a broken arm.

toy ambulance, toy car
Our first ride in an ambulance

The experience of being sent home with a child’s broken arm was sort of like childbirth.

They send you home from the hospital, and as a new mom, you have NO idea what you are doing. You may find me talking about it in the third person because honestly, that is how we were talking about her arm at home. As if it was no longer attached. The days following the break were all a learning experience for us as a family. Not only had she broken an arm, but it was her right arm. Her dominant arm.

No longer could my independent, brave, energetic daughter bounce around the house, color at will, or do a cartwheel.

She quickly became stir crazy from the lack of physical output. I was feeling overwhelmed by having to do the everyday tasks she was once so capable of doing. Around day 4 of her injury, I realized we needed to focus on the things that she CAN do, not the things that she currently can not.

Here is a list of things that can be done, even with a broken arm:

Cartwheel through life is her motto
  1. Sleep– Although she now sleeps on her back, with her arm propped up on a pillow, at least she is sleeping. The first few days, I slept in her bed with her as if she was a newborn. I quickly realized she was just fine on her own.  We resumed our normal night time routines.
  2. Do the chicken dance– The one-armed chicken dance is pretty cute when done by a 6 year-old! We have had several fun dance parties!
  3. Walk– No, she may not currently be able to run (until her arm is in a hard cast) but she can walk. We have taken many walks outside, and she is finding this a great way to get much needed physical activity in.
  4. Write– Yes, she is is right-handed, but knowing that she will be without the use of her dominant arm for upwards of 12 weeks, she needed to attempt her kindergarten school work. She didn’t even think twice about picking up her pencil and trying to work with her left hand.
  5. Make slime– My daughter asked to make slime using a kit she received for a gift. I wasn’t convinced she was going to be able to do this with one arm, but, voila, she could!
  6. Eat– I assumed this was going to be extremely hard for her, and started helping her with feeding herself. I quickly learned this was an area she was also capable of doing herself. Eating is a little longer process now. Much more food is on the floor after she is done, but at least she can do it!
  7. Eat an ice cream cone– Only one arm needed
  8. Swing– Luckily with a little jump and the use of her one arm, she can enjoy this recess-time activity
  9. Collect eggs– One of her favorite daily chores is to collect eggs from the chicken coop. She was pleased to see she can still do this job with only a few small adjustments.
  10. Cuddle– Together we have enjoyed many hours of snuggling together on a chair watching movies!

It has been almost two weeks since the ride in the ambulance, and life has become a little more normal. Finally, she is ready for the hard cast to be put on. Now she can return to bathing without a garbage bag over her broken arm and sling!

girl in with a broken arm in pink arm cast
Picking a pink cast was a highlight!

Has your child broken a bone? How did you encourage them to be independent? What chores were they able to do? What did they do for fun?

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I was born in California, and moved to Vermont when I was two, so I consider myself a native Vermonter. Married to one heck of a guy, Kelvin, who deals with all my crazy shenanigans and almost always goes along with my off the wall ideas. We live in Jericho with our two daughters, Munashe age 9, and Kuziva age 5. In life before kids, I worked in the non-profit sector working in public schools with children and families. These days you can find me chauffeuring, playing, cooking, gardening, attempting to run, cleaning or spending time with family and friends. Family time is key, and we strive to have as much play time as possible. Traveling, skiing, hiking, swimming, and eating maple creemees are some of our favorite activities. Personally, I love setting goals, writing lists, reading, gardening, organizing and dreaming of far off lands.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Oh NO!! Poor kiddo. My daughter was so traumatized she chose not to go back. We encouraged her to try for a while, but it became so difficult she stopped. She won’t even do a kart wheel anymore which is so sad. I say if your daughter wants to go back, do it!

  2. We had this almost exact experience last week. Back handspring with broken radius and ulna on dominant hand. Did you let her go back to gymnastics and if so, how long did she stay out? My 6 year old daughter is already saying she wants to go back but I am traumatized!

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