Helping Children Feel Safe

How to Respond to a Tragedy

This week I saw many friends post on Facebook about the Las Vegas tragedy.  Most of my friends have kids, and the concern most expressed was how to speak to a child about a tragedy.  I thought I would make a blog post giving my thoughts on responding to a child with questions related to a tragedy.
After any tragedy, children naturally have questions.  Especially for children with autism, school anxiety, depression or related issues, the feelings can be overwhelming.  While it may be appropriate to discuss these issues in counseling, children not in therapy can be re-assured by their parents or caregivers.
It's important for parents to reassure and not overreact to a tragedy.  Model confidence for your child.  Answer their questions, but don't go too far into details that are unnecessary.  Find the positive parts- like how statistically the events are very rare, or focus on the hero which can be found in any crisis situation.
Most of all, re-assure to your child that they are safe.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

A new study from the National Survey of Children's Mental Health has found that nearly half of American children have suffered either poverty, abuse and neglect, divorce, domestic violence, mental illness or substance abuse on the part of a caregiver. It was also found that one in five children have suffered at least two of these issues.
Adverse childhood experiences, or ACE for short, is associated with negative effects of child development, education, chronic disease and longevity. Fortunately, children have resilient minds and can cover with the right kind of support in a loving environment.
An article which appeared today on NPR which you can find here discusses how the Muppets are seeking to help these traumatized children. In a special initiative from Sesame Street available here, materials videos books and games will be released to help parents and caregivers cope with traumatic experiences.
The initiative is called Sesame Street in Communities. Therapists, parents and caregivers might find these materials helpful, although the scope is somewhat Limited. The materials offered focus more on managing emotions then what caused the emotions. Either way, it's good to see this available as a resource for therapists and parents alike.
You can access their guide on helping children feel safe here.