Dealing With Tragedy

  • What Parents Can Do:
    1. Focus on your children over the week following the tragedy. Tell them you love them
    and everything will be okay. Try to help them understand what has happened, keeping
    in mind their developmental level.

    2. Make time to talk with your children. Remember if you do not talk to your children
    about this incident someone else will. Take some time and determine what you wish to

    3. Stay close to your children. Your physical presence will reassure them and give you the
    opportunity to monitor their reaction. Many children will want actual physical
    contact. Give plenty of hugs. Let them sit close to you, and make sure to take extra
    time at bedtime to cuddle and to reassure them that they are loved and safe.

    4. Limit your child’s television viewing of these events. If they must watch, watch with
    them for a brief time; then turn the set off. Don’t sit mesmerized re-watching the same
    events over and over again.

    5. Maintain a “normal” routine. To the extent possible stick to your family’s normal routine
    for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc., but don’t be inflexible. Children may have
    a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night.

    6. Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed. These
    activities are calming, foster a sense of closeness and security, and reinforce a sense of
    normalcy. Spend more time tucking them in. Let them sleep with a light on if they ask
    for it.

    7. Safeguard your children’s physical health. Stress can take a physical toll on children as
    well as adults. Make sure your children get appropriate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.

    8. Consider praying or thinking hopeful thoughts for the victims and their families. It may
    be a good time to take your children to your place of worship, write a poem, or draw a
    picture to help your child express their feelings and feel that they are somehow
    supporting the victims and their families.

    9. Most schools are likely to be open and often are a good place for children to regain a
    sense of normalcy. Being with their friends and teachers can help. Schools should also
    have a plan for making counseling available.