06.02.22

Helpful Resources for Dealing with Traumatic Events

We are all emotionally affected by the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas and our hearts go out to the victims, families, and community members immediately affected by this tragic event.  We would like to take this opportunity to share some resources that may be helpful when speaking with your families about this type of event and to also share some warning signs that may indicate a child may be experiencing distress.

As difficult as it may be, it is important to be honest with your child about the upsetting event using language appropriate to their developmental level.  You could start with asking them if they have heard anything about the recent events regarding the school in Texas.  Check in with your child about how they are feeling, ask them if they have any questions, and share the information in smaller chunks, especially with younger children.  It is important to pay attention to when your child may need a hug, need some space, and/or need support.  A great children’s book to share is Once I Was Very Very Scared by Chandra Ghosh Ippen.  Through the story the reader learns what scared the little animals, ways they each respond when scared, and things that help them feel safe and calm.

Young children warning signs:

  • Frequent tantrums or irritability
  • Often talk about fears or worries
  • Somatic complaints (e.g., headaches or stomachaches) with no known medical cause
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep disturbance, frequent nightmares, or difficulty staying awake during the day
  • Loss of interest in playing with other children or having difficulty making friends
  • New academic struggles or declining grades
  • Repetitively checking behaviors (e.g., checking the doors are locked) out of fear that something bad may happen

Older children and adolescents warning signs:

  • Loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable
  • Low energy
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Withdrawn behaviors or avoidance of social activities
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Engagement in self-harming behaviors
  • Substance use
  • Engagement in risky or destructive behavior alone or with friends
  • Suicidal ideation or behaviors
  • Have periods of highly elevated energy and activity and require much less sleep than usual

 

For more information, check out the following resources:

 

American Psychological Association: Helping Your Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting

National Association of School Psychologists: Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers

Child Mind Institute

How Scary News Can Impact… (Understood.org)

Showing Up Strong 

Talking to Children About Violence

HealthyChildren.org