Comforting Children after a Trauma

Father Comforting SonIn light of the mass shootings in schools, children have been exposed to trauma, which may result in them feeling confused, frightened and helpless. These feelings may be overlooked or minimized. For this reason, it’s important for adults to respond with comfort and support. It can be tough to talk about, but you can be the greatest strength for your child, and they can be yours.

Here are some tips for you and your children, following a tragedy:

1)  Listen

  • Give the child a safe space to react however they need to.
  • Be patient and attentive to what they need to share or ask.

2)  Acknowledge

  • Acknowledge and validate their emotions.
  • Let them know it’s normal to feel afraid or anxious and they’re not alone in feeling that emotion.

3)  Be gentle

  • Remain calm
  • Use a soft tone of voice and even-paced words.
  • Allow time for reactions and any questions they may have.

4)  Be reassuring

  • Remember to emphasize that you are there and be a comforting presence.
  • Offer the best sense of security you can.

5)  Engage in stress-reducing exercises

  • Practice deep breathing. Think the word “Calm” as you breathe in and “Tension” as you breathe out.
  • Take a mindful walk, alone or with your children. As you walk, focus on your senses.

6)  Sing out loud. Singing changes oxygen flow and can relieve stress.

Young children don’t say, “I had a hard day, can we talk?” They say, “Will you play with me?”