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Tips for Helping Your Kids in the Aftermath of a Tragedy

March 24th, 2016     By Dr. Dan Daly, Executive Vice President of Youth Care

Anxiety, crisis, Kids and Teens in Crisis

This post was first published on Momaha.com.

Today’s world can be a scary place for kids. With stories about shootings and accidents in the news on a regular basis, and this week’s terrorist attacks in Brussels , it’s impossible to shield kids from the realities of life.

We can, however, help them cope with the events and continue to move forward.

Everyone – including kids – is hard-wired to recover from crisis events and has “built-in” coping mechanisms. Therefore, it is normal for kids to feel upset, sad, confused or afraid after something bad happens. These feeling allow them to process and start to heal. It’s important to let your child know that it’s okay to have these feelings. Here are some other tips for helping your kids in the aftermath of a tragedy.

1. Always be available and listen to your child when they want to talk, but don’t force children to talk about their feelings.

2. Parents, friends and teachers can all be great sources of support, caring and understanding for kids.

3. You might be fearful and unsettled yourself. Seek adult comfort. Parents should convey confidence in the future and that “things will be okay” to their children.

4. Getting kids back to their normal activities and their regular schedule as soon as possible promotes positive coping and healing. Routines are comforting to kids.

5. Give kids the time and space to sort through and process their feelings.

6. Monitor kids and stay vigilant as the healing process continues, even months after the event.

Through all of this, you should remain vigilant and watchful, and continue to keep your eyes and ears open for signals of deeper problems. These might include changes in eating or sleeping habits or not being able to return to normal activities. If you notice these or other red flags continuing two weeks or longer after the event, you should seek professional help from a licensed mental health professional.

For more information about helping your child in the aftermath of a crisis, click here.

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