When it comes to talking with young people about traumatic events it may seem easiest to gloss over the topic or ignore it all together. But it is important for adults to help kids feel safe and help them to understand the world around them- even when senseless acts occur. Resilience, or the ability to survive and thrive after a setback or negative life experience, is a valuable characteristic for people of all ages. Here are some tips on promoting resilience in young people in the aftermath of a traumatic event.
- Make home a safe haven
- Provide opportunities to talk about events using developmentally appropriate detail and language (be careful not to pressure kids to talk)
- Allow for expression of ideas through conversation, song, movement, art, writing, play, etc. (but don’t pressure kids to do these things)
- Listen, listen, listen
- Take TV and news breaks (including social media)
- Look for the “helpers” and find ways to help
- Its OK to be sad and even cry in front of kids (however, limit exposure to intense emotion as it may trigger fear)
- Continue to take care of yourself- kids will see this and follow your lead
- Create time for socializing with friends and family
- Find ways to have fun and laugh with your child
- Seek professional help, when needed
For more information broken down by developmental stage see link to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration materials.