Crisis Situations Share +

Crisis can be anything from a medical trauma, death of a loved one, or community violence. It is important to remember that every individual and child responds to trauma and crisis differently. For parents and caregivers knowing how to help yourself and your child process and work through a traumatic event can be difficult.

Below are resources including ways to discuss crisis situations and links to outside networks for more detailed topics and information related to trauma and crisis situations.

For a complete list of crisis hotline numbers CLICK HERE

5 Ways to Talk to Your Child After a Crisis

  1. First, find out what your child or student knows about the event.  Children often hear the news from social media, older siblings, or classmates. The child's perception of what has happened may be very different from the reality.
  2. Reassure the child that it is ok to talk about sad or scary events and to ask questions. It is also ok to admit to feeling sad, scared, or angry and to acknowledge that you are having those feelings too.  For both kids and adults, it is easier to cope with a crisis if they feel they understand it, so encourage questions now and in the future.
  3. Talk about the people who are helping and reassure the child that he or she is safe.  Explain that events like these are very rare and talk about the many people who work every day to keep kids safe, such as police officers, teachers, or the school principal.  Let the child know that even though bad things happen, the world has many good people who want to help. 
  4. Get close.  Extra physical affection, like hugs or snuggling up together with a book, goes a long way towards providing an inner feeling of safety.  The closeness can also help you to manage your own stress so that you can continue to be a comfort to your child. 
  5. In sharing information, be honest, but be mindful of the child's age.   Remember that children may be listening to adult conversations.

Early elementary school. Children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them. Give simple examples of school safety like reminding children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school day.

Upper elementary and early middle school. Children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.

Upper middle school and high school. Students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.

Additional Crisis Links

American Red Cross

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Responding to School Crisis