Helping Children Cope in Unsettling Times: Tips for Parents & Teachers
People in the United States and around the world are facing difficult and unsettling times. Concerns over war and the threat of terrorism dominate the news. The nation’s heightened state of alert has many people on edge.
Children may become confused or fearful that they or their loved ones are at risk. Adults need to make children feel safe.
Tips for Adults
On a practical level,
- Remain calm and reassuring.
- Acknowledge and normalize their feelings.
- Take care of yourself. If you are anxious or upset, your children are more likely to be so as well.
- Maintain a normal routine.
- Spend time together as a family.
- Be a good listener and observer.
- Emphasize that people are resilient.
- Turn off or monitor the television.
- Discuss events in age-appropriate terms.
- Stick to the facts.
- Differentiate between war and terrorism.
- Be willing to discuss the concept of death.
- Have a family plan.
- Communicate with your children’s school.
Teacher Tips include:
- Assess student needs during anxious times.
- Make time for class discussion.
- Stop bullying or harassment immediately
- Encourage the children to talk to you or a caring adult.
- Do something positive with students to help others.
- Become aware of possible reactions that children or adolescents have to trauma.
Behaviors to watch for include: clinging to parents, refusal to go to school, fear of the dark, poor concentration, irritability, physical complaints, sleep disturbances, nightmares, withdrawal from activities and friends, listlessness, and increases in conflicts with others.