Tips for Helping Your Child Through Traumatic Events
Thanks to the PS255 Counseling Department for these helpful tips!
There are no “right” or “wrong” ways to talk with children about such traumatic events. However, here are some suggestions that may be helpful:
Don’t let children watch too much news coverage with frightening images. The repetition of such scenes can be disturbing and confusing. It is especially important to be aware of this with your children.
Use simple words and concepts children can understand. Gear your explanations to the child’s age, language, and developmental level.
Children learn from watching their parents. Be aware that they also learn from listening to your conversations with other adults. Many of our students have very good receptive language.
Keeping predictable routines is helpful. Let them know what happens next to the degree that you know.
Different children need different things. Some children need to run around, others need to be held.
Just be with your child. Even when you can’t fix things your presence helps your child.
Fortunately most children are quite resilient. Although parents may follow the news with close scrutiny, most children. They may not want to think about or discuss violent events. They’d rather play ball, climb trees, or ride bikes.
Fred Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news: “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers-so many caring people in this world.”
These tips are based on recommendations from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress.
Additional information is available from the following resources:
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress www.cstsonline.org
National Child Traumatic Stress Network www.ncstn.org
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry www.aacap.org
American Academy of Pediatrics www.aap.org
American Psychiatric Association www.psych.org
American Psychological Association www.apa.org
American Red Cross www.redcross.org