Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Helping Our Children Cope with the Sandy Hook Tragedy

David Castillo Dominici
Children who have experienced multiple traumas in the past are more likely to be vulnerable to the emotional consequences of this latest rampage. -- Parents Key to Easing Psychological Impact of Conn. Shootings
If you are parenting a child, as I am, who came to you by way of the foster care system, your child may be needing extra support around recent events, but really all children are likely to need some parental guidance as they attempt to make sense of something that is beyond comprehension, even for most grownups.

How do we best support them? What should we do, and what should we avoid?
Children, no matter where they live, also need to be able to express their feelings about what happened, the psychologist [Elissa Brown of St. John's University] said.
This doesn't mean encouraging them to tell the story over and over again, or allowing them to watch media accounts of the shooting, Brown said. "That can bring on PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]," she noted.  -- Parents Key to Easing Psychological Impact of Conn. Shootings
Brown advises letting the child take the lead:
Adults should try to inform children without overwhelming them. One way to navigate this process is to open up the lines of communication but let the kids themselves take the lead, Brown said. 
"Answer questions but only answer questions they ask you," she recommended. "Children tend to ask questions at the developmental level where they can receive answers. If you let them guide the conversation you're in better shape." -- Parents Key to Easing Psychological Impact of Conn. Shootings
It is also important to be aware that children sometimes express themselves in indirect ways. They may exhibit behaviors that seem unrelated to the event but were in fact triggered by it:
Children may also express their discomfort in other ways, for example, being afraid to get on an airplane for holiday travel. "Caregivers need to be able to read the signs," Brown said. -- Parents Key to Easing Psychological Impact of Conn. Shootings
If you are looking for addition resources to support your child during this difficult time, the follow list from the National Child Trauma Stress Network may be useful:
Resources in Response to the Recent Shooting


  1. This is a good, helpful article. Thanks Rebecca.


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