Ways Parents Can Help Their Children in a Crisis

School Safety Tipline 1-844-PUSD-TIP (1-844-787-3847)

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.


  1. Protect students (including high school students) from vicarious trauma and information overload. Limit television and give age-appropriate, accurate information in small doses.
  2. 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.
  3. It is okay for you to share your reactions with moderation while remembering that you are modeling for your children.
  4. 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.
  5. Support children to express their reactions in a way that is appropriate for them. Let them talk, write or draw about their feelings.
  6. 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.
  7. Reassure your child with, "We are together." "We care about you." "We will take care of you."
  8. Responding to repeated questions. You may need to repeat information and reassurances many times.
  9. A familiar routine is comforting!
  10. 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.

The Poway Unified School District (PUSD) is an equal opportunity employer/program and is committed to an active Nondiscrimination Program. PUSD prohibits discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying based on actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, national origin, nationality, immigration status, ethnicity, ethnic group identification, age, religion, marital or parental status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression or association with a person or a group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. For more information, please contact: Title IX/Equity Compliance Officer, James Jimenez, Associate Superintendent of Personnel Support Services, Poway Unified School District, 15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128, 1-858-521-2800, extension 2121, jjimenez@powayusd.com. For students, you may contact Title IX Coordinator/ 504 Coordinator Jamie Dayhoff, Director of Attendance and Discipline, Poway Unified School District, 1-858-521-2840, jdayhoff@powayusd.com

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POWAY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT | 15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128 | (858) 521-2800