In the aftermath of a highly publicized tragedy, parents often have questions about how to respond to their children. Keep in mind that each child will respond differently in a given situation. Some may have no reaction at all and this is perfectly normal as well. The nationally recognized Crisis Management Institute recommends the following which parents may find useful.
1. Limit your child’s exposure to media coverage of the event
2. Do not transfer your anxieties to your child
3. Always keep in mind your child’s developmental level and capacity for understanding
4. Provide reassurance about safety and security
5. Give honest, factual answers to questions
6. Answer only the question you are asked; do not elaborate
7. Allow your child to verbally or actively process the event
a. Drawing pictures, writing
b. Opportunities to ask questions, give respectful and honest answers
8. Allow your child to express feelings
9. Your child may need to repeat certain things or ask the same questions over and over
10. As adults, we have feelings as well. Modeling that capacity is healthy.
11. Provide lots of reassurance and validation of what your child is feeling
12. Support your child’s thoughts and respond to concerns, however, maintain expectations for appropriate behavior
13. Continue to offer structure, provide a stable environment and predictable schedule
Your child’s principal, teacher, school counselors and Child Study Team members are available to you and your child for additional information and support.