Supporting Children After A Traumatic Event

Supporting Children After A Traumatic Event

A boy and a girl facing a field

Tips for supporting children after a traumatic event in the news:

When there is a major news event or tragedy, your child will very likely hear about it when they go to school the next day. Inform your child of the basic facts of the event before they go to school, and especially before they hear variations from other children. Do not share graphic detail or elaborations.
  • Encourage your children to talk, if they wish, and listen to their concerns.
  • Answer questions truthfully and at a level appropriate to your child’s level of understanding. It is okay not to have an answer to “why it happened”.
  • Make sure your child knows that they are safe, but do not give false reassurance.
  • Limit exposure to media, conversations or upsetting details about the event.
  • Do not share your own fears in your child’s presence.
  • Check in with them again when they get home to clarify misunderstandings or rumors and answer questions.
  • Check with your child’s school on how they are handling the news event and what support they are providing students. Your child’s school may put something in place with their counseling staff or they may have contacted another agency in the community to assist them.
  • Familiarize yourself with the school emergency plan.
  • Have a family emergency plan and practice it with your children.
  • Reactions such as increased fearfulness, nightmares, or separation anxiety are not unusual and generally go away with basic support. If your child continues to show emotional or behavioral changes, contact your child’s primary care provider or a mental health professional who is experienced in helping children cope with traumatic events.
If your child develops fears or is afraid to go to school:
  • Reassure them that they are safe and that there is no danger at their school, and that the event is over.
  • Consider accompanying them into school for a day or two if you can.
  • Alert their teacher and/or counselor that they are fearful.
  • Remember – your children take their cues from you – be calm and reassuring.

Below are some additional resources available for parents and school staff:

Managing Stress in Times of Crisis

Helping Children and Youth Cope

After a Crisis Helping Young Children Heal

Helping Children Cope with Traumatic Events

Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event

Assisting Parents/Caregivers in Coping with Collective Traumas

Helping People After a Loss

Faculty and Staff Responding to School Violence in Elementary Schools

Faculty and Staff Responding to School Violence in Middle and High Schools

Self Care for Educators

Trauma Resources

Talking to children and teens about mass violence:

Talking to Children About Violence:Tips for Parents and Teachers
Tip Sheet for Parents and Teachers

Tips for School Administrators for Reinforcing School Safety

Talking to Kids (or Not) About What Happened in Connecticut (includes some concrete examples of what to say and how to say it particularly with young children)

Coping with Stress Following Mass Shooting

Parent Guidelines for Helping Youth After Mass Violence

Teachers Guidelines for Helping Students After Mass Violence

Talking to children and teens about suicide:

Talking Points to Assist Adults When Talking to Teens about "13 Reasons Why" Series on Netflix

Tips for Parents for "13 Reasons Why" and Suicide

Netflix "13 Reasons Why": Considerations for Educators and Parents

How to Talk to a Child about a Suicide Attempt in Your Family

How to Talk to a Teenager about a Suicide Attempt in Your Family

Tips for Survivors of a Traumatic Event

Talking to children and teens about abuse:

Tips for Supporting Students Who Have Been Victimized

Tips for Identifying and Reporting Child Abuse 

The 5 Safety Rules

Tips for Talking to Children Regarding Concerns of Sexual Abuse

The Family Support Center does not endorse any organizations or individuals outside of the Spencerport Central School District.  These resources are for informational purposes and should be pursued based on the consumer's own criteria.