Helping Children Cope with Traumatic Events

Following a school shooting or other critical incident, parents should monitor children for signs of distress such as having trouble functioning at home or school or suffering from severe fear, anxiety, or depression. You can help your children cope by following these guidelines:

  • Limit exposure to media reports and images about the incident

  • Reassure children that they are safe, but honestly discuss their fears

  • Offer your child additional social support by spending more time with him/her

  • Give your child permission and space to express his/her feelings, whatever they may be

  • Discuss the details of the event (for very young children, only if your child asks about them) in developmentally appropriate language

  • Practice healthy behaviors and routines such as healthy eating, adequate amounts of regular sleep, exercise, and stress management and relaxation techniques

  • Participate with your child in your family’s spiritual and faith-based practices

  • Engage children in activities they enjoy like reading, drawing, music, sports, and other social activities

  • Spend time connecting with loved ones and friends and receiving social support

  • Reestablish routines as soon as possible

  • Get your child professional help if signs of trauma (e.g., nightmares, acting out, crying, trouble sleeping, fear of separations, bedwetting) are evident

©2019 Peggy Mitchell Clarke