How to Support Your Kids After a Traumatic Event
Hello everybody, I have been on a bit of a delay on writing my blog this month. It is sad and unfortunate that I am writing to you under these circumstances.
Last Wednesday, devastating news arrived to South Florida, and the rest of the world.
I live about 10 minutes from the location of the tragedy – I think it affected me significantly due to it. It made me think about my kids, and their safety when they will join the school system. Living in the United States, has blessed me with many opportunities for professional and personal growth. However, it also brought to my attention the risks, and the horror that present to many people living here. As a parent, this tragedy presents different layers of issues to deal with. We have to deal with our ability to process the pain and fear related to what happened. At the same time, we feel that we have to stay strong for our kids. I wanted to use this opportunity to reach out to all the parents out there and let them know that they are not alone and to give them a few tools on how to deal with the situation to the best of their abilities.
After reading a lot of literature, and listening to different professionals in the field I found few good pointers on how to handle this tragedy, or any other possible future tragedy that may ever happen. Hopefully it will never happen again though. Here are some of the tips I collected.
- Let your child be heard. It is very important to open a conversation about what happened, ask them questions and clarify any questions they may have. Let your child feel that their fears, questions, and emotions are OK. Let them know that you’re also affected by this tragedy, but make sure to reinforce safety. You are your kids representation of what is out there. Ensure your kids that the world is a safe and good place despite this tragedy. Unfortunately, sometimes there are some people out there that do bad things.
- Try to keep the routines as normal as possible. This week unfortunately the kids are not going to be able to go back to school. It is important that you try to still have some kind of routine and activity with the kids. Kids getting security from having a routine and the predictability of their schedule.
- Try to limit exposure to the television and the news as much as possible. If your kid wants to look for information make sure to help them focus on the heroes, the teachers, and the first responders rather than the shooter (Lisa Zuker).
- Share information with your kids about the situation as much as possible, taking into consideration their age and their ability to process the information you’re about to give them.
- Make sure to take care of yourself in anyway possible. Crying is OK as well as long as it is coming from a place of sadness and the ability to process what happen and not from a place of fear. It could actually be healthy for your kids knowing that it is OK to cry to process their pain.
- Make sure to seek professional help if necessary. The community has build a lot of help locations for free to deal with what is happening. Here is a link to a list of possible resources. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/16fxt4IceWEao6I1v3-Rzbf5Oc0eduf2pn2ElfYf_Hk4/edit#gid=0
- Create a family safety plan together. Go over contact person for emergency, code words in case something happens. Having some kind of a plan between all of you can ensure your child sense of safety.
- Self-care is highly important at this time. Both you as a parent, and your child independently as well as as a family.
These are just a few of the tips that I came up with, but you can also look into the Florida school counselor Association website, the Red Cross website, and other online resources for further help (here, here and more). My blessings and prayers are with the victims who died, those who are injured, the family and friends, as well as the community as a whole during these difficult times.