Dealing with Children After Traumatic Events

The past couple of months have been rough for everybody; most of us have been stressed out and worried due to the latest racist protests, natural disasters and mass shootings occurring in different parts of our country and other parts of the world. To make ourselves feel better, some of us talk to friends, we post on social media, we help, we donate… we find different ways to process our feelings and most of the time we are able to find a particular ritual that makes us recuperate composure in one way or another, but what happens to our children during these traumatic events? How do we talk to them and what do we tell them?

In traumatic situations, it is almost impossible to not appear nervous or scared in front of our loved ones.  Although children react differently to these events than adults, they can evidently sense these emotions in their caregivers and their fears translate into feelings of anxiety and confusion.  Some of these manifestations can be going back to thumb sucking, bed wetting, fear of the darkness, fear of strangers and being clingy with parents or caregivers. These reactions might escalate if the little ones are overexposed to tv and news media coverage and without proper reassurance, these events can stay in their minds for a long time causing harmful effects in their personalities.

At Bee-lingual Bees we understand that every family has different ways of parenting and that caregivers only know what’s best for their own children, but we found a couple of suggestions from the Center for Parenting Education that might be useful for parents who might not know where to start this type of conversation with their families:

  1. Love and nurture your children – Express your love to them verbally and physically more than the usual and be alert for any signs of anxiety or fear. Focus on their feelings without any judgment or suggestions.
  2. Reassure your children – Try to maintain the same normal routines you and your family are used to. Encourage the expression of feelings and share and discuss your reactions with them as well.
  3. Teach your children – Be patient and answer their questions as many times as necessary. Keep your answers simple and age-appropriate. Teach children that sometimes bad things happen and people make mistakes, but that violence is never the answer. Reassure them that they are good people and that they are not responsible for the disaster (as some young children might think).
  4. Work on their coping skills – Find an age-appropriate activity for them to let out their feelings such as drawing, writing, painting, reading or role playing. Talk and discuss their experiences.
  5. Be a good role model – Parents are children’s first teachers; try to remain calm and watch your reactions as you focus on them and validate their feelings.

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