- Model calm and control. Reassure children that they are safe and so are the other important adults in their lives.
- Make time to talk with your children about crisis events. Take some time and determine what you wish to say. This is especially true since new information will unfold each day. Provide brief, accurate, and age appropriate information. Don’t dwell on the scale or scope of the crisis, particularly with young children.
- Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate. Young children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their lives will not change. Older children will be more vocal in asking questions about their safety and what is being done. They may need assistance separating reality from rumours.
- Understand what your child is asking. Difficult questions that children ask may be spurred by curiosity or feelings. Rather than plunging into an immediate answer, learn what motivates the question. Ask, “What made you think of that?” or “What ideas do you have?” Once the meaning of a question is known, it is easier to answer effectively.
- There may be questions we cannot answer. Rather than invent a response, it is more helpful to say “I don’t know,” or “I’ll try to find out.”
- Acknowledge, validate, and accept your child’s feelings. He or she may be feeling confused, frightened, or even excited. Listen calmly and reassuringly as they express their thoughts and feelings.
- Limit the amount of your child’s television viewing of these events. If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the set off. Young children should not be allowed to watch TV coverage of the event, as they are too young to process what they are seeing and hearing.
- Maintain a “normal” routine. To the extent possible stick to your family’s normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc. Children feel secure when routines are calmly followed.
- Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed without the television or news radio on. These activities are calming and foster a sense of closeness and security.