Trauma is what for the system cannot take in. When something traumatic happens there are rings of effect to those who are immediately impacted by the event; those who are friends and loved ones; those who are psychologically close and identify with the people involved.
- In this instance, this is all mothers ,fathers, families and children most directly in the Newcastle area and of course for beyond.
There are stages of adjustment to trauma
Shock, shocked stunned , cannot take it in; it feels unreal.
Realisation: as shock subsides,the enormity is felt more clearly and more deeply.
Acknowledgement : a stage of realising what has been changed by this event.
Adaptation; small steps toward recovery
HOW TO TALK TO CHILDREN
1. Initiate the conversation
Just because children aren’t talking about a tragedy doesn’t mean they’re not thinking about it.
They may sense your discomfort and not want to upset you by bringing it up, or they may be too overwhelmed by their own feelings to express them.
- “How do you feel about what happened
- “What are you or your friends thinking and talking about.”
- “Are you and your friends talking about what happened?
- I’d be really interested in hearing about what you think. Let me know if you want to talk.”
2. Reassure them
Tragedy can rattle our sense of safety, and our children’s. One goal of this conversation is to provide them with the reassurance that:
- Things will get better.
- You will be there for them.
- They can ask you questions anytime.
- They are safe, and so are the people they can rely on
- Don’t jump to judge or minimize what they’re saying—no matter how silly or illogical it may seem.
- Stay calm “By your ability to listen calmly, even to concerns which might seem unrealistic, you communicate that their fears are not too frightening to deal with,”your calm is their calm
- If children’s fears sound vague or jumbled, parents can help by gently summarizing what they’re hearing: “It sounds like what you’re feeling is…” A few clarifying questions can also help:
- “That’s interesting, can you tell me more about that?”
- “What do you mean by…?”
- “How long have you been feeling…?”
4. Find out what they know
By listening, parents can discover the snippets and rumors that their children have already absorbed about a tragedy. If it’s unclear, a simple “What have you heard about this?”
A key purpose of this conversation is to correct any misconceptions children may have picked up while at the same time offering more concrete information. You can tailor the level of detail depending on their age and how many unanswered questions are weighing on their minds.
Some of those questions may be tricky to answer—
- “That’s an interesting question, and I don’t know the answer. How can we find that out together?”
“The process of figuring out where to get the information, and going through the steps to obtain it, can be a powerfully reassuring experience for children, especially when a trusted adult participates with them,”
“In a small but significant way, this experience can demonstrate for young people that there are orderly ways to go about solving problems and that the world is not beyond our understanding.”
5. Encourage children to share their feelings
Sadness, anxiety, fear, stress, even excitement—all feelings are possible in response to tragedy and violence. Whatever children are feeling, show understanding and acceptance:
“If we don’t let children know it’s okay to feel sad and scared, they may think something is wrong with them when they do feel that way,” “If we can help them accept their own feelings as natural and normal, their feelings will be much more manageable for them.”
We might even encourage children to express their feelings in a non-verbal way, through drawing, writing, singing, or play.
6. Share your feelings
Experts seem to agree that sharing your feelings with your child can be beneficial, but only if you are fully in control of your own reaction and not overwhelmed by it.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or traumatized by the event, you might add to, or replace the ones children are already experiencing.
“A serious pitfall is that you might burden them with your adult concerns, raising new questions and fears for them, rather than helping them deal with questions and fears they already have,”
Limited expressions of emotion, such as, “You seem sad when we talk about this. I feel sad, too.” is very appropriate, like a sharing.
- Focus on the good
Where there is tragedy, there is also heroism—acts by police officers, doctors, or ordinary citizens that restore our faith in humanity right when it is shaken. The forces of good spring into action with their love, support, and generosity.
‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’
The message for your child is There are good people all around you.
8. Encourage children to act
When we feel the pain of others, compassion motivates us to help and to transform that pain into a feeling of connection and support. Encouraging kids to do something about what they’re feeling can give them an outlet and restore their sense of control.
Some suggestions might include:
- Writing letters to victims and their families.
- Sending thank you notes to doctors, paramedics, firefighters, or police..
- Organizing a town meeting to create an action plan.- Church event
“9. Know when to seek outside help
What does a “normal” reaction to tragedy look like?
There may be no normal, but experts agree that if more than three months have passed and your child is still suffering—from anxiety, distraction, fear, hopelessness, sleep problems, nightmares, sadness, angry outbursts, or headaches—it might be time to consult a mental health professional. Every child is different, and how she reacts will depend on factors such as how close to home the tragedy was, whether she/ he was traumatized in the past, and her general level of mental health.
The good news is that kids are very resilient, and they can even inspire us with their feats of strength and optimism