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Tragedy in CT: Ways to support families in
supporting their children.
12/17/2012

During this extremely sad, confusing and stressful time, parents and caregivers can support their children by considering these points.

  • Try to limit children's exposure to all graphic media including TV, video, radio, magazines and news.

  • When children do confront this information on TV or in other media, talk with them about what they are seeing and hearing and offer opportunities for them to ask questions.

  • Answer children's questions honestly. This doesn't mean that they need to understand the whole story. Allow the child's questions to guide the information parents provide.

  • Spend extra time with your children during stressful times.

  • Pay attention to your children's moods, behavior and sleep, as well as their play themes and drawing, to identify signs that they may be worried. If you see signs that they may be upset by events, ask them how they are feeling and respond to their distress.

  • Maintain family routines such as those around mealtimes and bedtimes, because this structure usually reassures children that their own world is secure.

  • Infants and toddlers will know if their parents are stressed. They will respond to their parents' emotional tone.

  • Preschoolers will also be very aware of their parents' emotions and reactions. They will ask how events will touch them personally. They may also repeat the same question many times seeking reassurance.

  • School age children often have a strong sense of right and wrong and will try to make sense of what has happened. Participating in activities that are healing such as sending a card or making a donation can help them cope with their feelings.

  • Teens are likely to seek support from peers as well as their family. Actively assisting others in need, possibly alongside peers and family, can be an effective strategy to help them feel that they have some control over the problem before them.

  • Parents and caregivers who are themselves highly distressed should seek their own support, so that they can model effective coping for their children. Pam High, MD Hasbro Children's/Rhode Island Hospital Nate Blum MD Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.