Ways Parents Can Help Their Children in a Crisis
Safe Schools Hotline 858.668.4161
Children can feel the same intense feelings that you feel about the crisis. This is a natural reaction. Some children may show their feelings in a direct and immediate fashion, others will wait until a later time. A severe change in a young person's behavior (speech, emotion, appearance, alertness, activity) may be a sign that professional help is needed.
- Protect students (including high school students) from vicarious trauma and information overload. Limit television and give age-appropriate, accurate information in small doses.
- Be aware that it is a person's reaction that determines how powerful the event is, not the event itself. Children (and parents) may be reacting to previous hurtful experiences.
- It is okay for you to share your reactions with moderation while remembering that you are modeling for your children.
- Listen to what young people have to say. It is important not to shut off discussion by offering your opinions or judgments. Do clarify facts.
- Support children to express their reactions in a way that is appropriate for them. Let them talk, write or draw about their feelings.
- Listen to what your children say and how they say it. Repeat your child(ren)'s words, and recognize fear, anxiety, insecurity. For instance: "you are afraid that… " or, "You wonder if something like this will happen again." This helps both you and the child clarify feelings.
- Reassure your child with, "We are together." "We care about you." "We will take care of you."
- Responding to repeated questions. You may need to repeat information and reassurances many times.
- A familiar routine is comforting!
- Remember, children may remain quiet and depressed for some time after the event and some may begin to act out noisily and physically as a method of dealing with their feelings.