Tip Sheet for Parents and Caregivers Supporting Children and Youth After Traumatic Events
At times of severe stress, such as the trauma of war or high-profile violence, both children and adults need extra support. Children who are physically and emotionally closest to this tragedy, or for whom have had other similar trauma in their lives, may have feelings of grief, helplessness, anxiety, and anger.
In the days, and sometimes weeks, following a tragic event, these varied reactions are not uncommon. Typically, these reactions subside over time as children and youth are reassured that they are safe and protected, gain a factual understanding of the event, and are provided opportunities to talk about their thoughts, feelings, and fears. Adults need to carefully observe these children for signs of traumatic stress, depression or even suicidal thinking, and seek professional help when necessary.
Take care of your own feelings and needs
Acknowledge and Normalize Feelings
Help Children and Youth Feel Safe
Be a Good Listener and Observer
Be Alert to Changes in Behaviour
Children and youth may respond differently to traumatic events. Watching for changes in children and youth’s behavior is a way that we can keep track of how events may be impacting them and understand these behaviours as communicating distress. For example, you may see any of the following:
Identity Children and Youth Who May Be at Risk and Seek Help
Most children and youth will be able to cope with their concerns about current events, with help from parents, teachers, and other caring adults. Some children may be at risk of more extreme reactions due to personal circumstances.
The most vulnerable children are those who:
Keep Communication Open Between Home and School
Community Support Resources