Supporting Children When Tragedy Strikes

June 1, 2017

When tragedy strikes a community, we all feel it. We mourn as a community as we try to understand and find possible answers. We instinctively want to protect ourselves, our children, our loved ones.

Tu Nidito Children and Family Services is here to support our community’s children and families through the grieving process. Parents or caregivers may find it challenging to explain tragic events to children but we encourage caregivers to be truthful and straightforward. Age-appropriate honesty between caregiver/adult and the child is an essential part of the grieving process.

Following are some tips and suggestions for parents and caregivers of grieving children:

  • React Carefully. Children observe the way that their parents handle situations. Feel free to share some of your feelings, and let them know that they can share theirs too. If you react with overwhelming fear and sadness, your children might become even more afraid.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions and be as open and honest as possible. Your child may be feeling confused and unsafe. He or she might feel afraid that the event will happen again or happen to someone that they know. Use your child’s own language to explain feelings and validate what they express and are experiencing.
  • Volunteer or find ways to help. Give your child a sense of security by allowing them to make a difference in the lives of others.
  • Tune out the media. While it may be tempting to stay up-to-date with the latest developments, try to avoid watching when your children are in the room. Violent imagery, descriptions, and constant replaying and retelling of the story might upset your child, adding to their fear.
  • Find other outlets for your children to express themselves. This is especially helpful if your child is too young to put what they are feeling into words. Encourage drawing, painting, or playtime to allow them to show how they feel.
  • Try to get back into a routine. Do not feel as though you should ignore what has happened, but try to stay to your normal schedule including bath, dinner and bed time.
  • Find a special way to commemorate those who have died. Attend a memorial or light a candle and explain to your child what those actions mean.
  • Let your child know that they can ask you anything at any time, whether it is in a day, a week, a month, or a year. Tragedy might spark your child’s thoughts on death and they may have questions down the road.
  • Reassure your child. Sometimes, children ask questions that you might not know the answer to. Try to reassure them that you do everything you can to keep them safe.
  • If you need additional support, please call Tu Nidito at 520.322.9155. We can refer you to the appropriate resources for help dealing with traumatic events and grief.

All of Tu Nidito’s services are provided at no cost to the families who need them. All of those affected by the tragedy or any death loss should contact Tu Nidito at 520.322.9155.

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