How to Help Children Cope With Trauma

Although children have many of the same reactions as adults due to trauma, they have different ways of expressing their reactions and need some special help to cope. The following are some suggestions for dealing with a child in crisis.

  •  Encourage children and teens to talk about their concerns and express their feelings.
  • Explain the facts that you know about the event.
  • Reinforce safety and security.
  • Encourage children and teens to talk about their concerns and express their feelings. Some children may be hesitant to initiate such conversation, so you may want to ask what your child has heard and how they feel about it.
  • Explain the facts that you know about the event. Use simple, direct terms to describe what happened. Give factual information. You may have to explain more than once.
  • Encourage children to talk about confusing feelings, worries, daydreams, and disruptions of concentration by accepting the feelings, listening carefully, and reminding them that these are normal reactions (any of these feelings are okay) following a very scary event.
  • Reinforce safety and security. Let children know that tragic incidents are not common and that, day-to-day, schools are safe places. Your child needs a lot of reassurance that you will take care of him.
  • Maintain family routines and activities. Help children get enough sleep and maintain a balanced diet.
  • You may need to be flexible with bedtime routines. A child may need you to stay with him while he falls asleep, he may want a night light, or to sleep with a sibling or with you.
  • If your child is fearful of going to school if counselors know when your child is in crisis, they can frequently help.
  • Spend extra time with your children and your family. Hugs help!

Talking to Your Children After A Disaster

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