This piece was originally published on LinkedIn's Pulse on March 24, 2016.
I've heard from a number of parents who've shared stories about not knowing how to help reassure their children's fears after learning about the Brussels terrorist attacks. Here are 10 tips from the Humanitarian Disaster Institute's booklet "Helping Children Cope with Traumatic Events" that I helped write on how to help and talk with your child are this tragic event:
- Provide personal contact such as hugging or touching your children.
- Calmly provide factual information about the violence and current plans.
- Encourage your children to talk about their feelings (but don't force it).
- Help children identify appropriate coping strategies.
- Spend extra time with your children such as at bedtime.
- Re-establish your daily routine (consistency is an important source of security).
- Involve your children by giving them specific chores to help them feel they are helping contribute to family and community life.
- Praise and recognize responsible behavior.
- Understand that your children may express a range of reactions to the tragic events.
- When answering questions or providing information regarding a traumatic event, it is useful to present the information in small chunks and ensure understanding before moving on.
For more helpful information or to download our booklet visit our resource page here. Image from the Associated Press.
Dr. Jamie Aten is the founder and co-director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL. He is also the co-author of the "Disaster Ministry Handbook" (InterVarsity Press). Follow on twitter @drjamieaten.