Ideas for Helping Children Deal with Stress Related to Sniper Attacks
The sniper shootings in Washington, Virginia and Maryland have adults
concerned and children fearful. How can adults help children deal with
stress related to the sniper attacks?
"There are a variety of strategies that parents or other adults can
use in helping children deal with such stress," according to Sean
Brotherson, North Dakota State University extension family life specialist.
These may include:
- Hold the child and provide physical comfort. Children may naturally
seek the comfort and security that comes from being held. Give children
extra hugs, smiles, and hand-holding. Set aside time just to sit next to
a child, put your arm around them, or hold them on your lap and talk
with them about their feelings.
- Give your child verbal reassurance. It is important for children to
hear messages of support. Remember to tell them often that you love
them, that everything will work out, and that they are taken care of.
- Be honest with the child about your feelings. It helps children to
know that parents may share some of their feelings. Answer your child’s
questions in a simple, straightforward way. Share your own thoughts and
feelings as appropriate.
- Ask your child to share his or her own thoughts and feelings. Listen.
Parents can help children by encouraging them to express their feelings
and listening carefully. Ask them to tell you if they feel scared,
angry, or anxious. Help them to realize such feelings are normal and
that they can be worked out. Reassure them that they are protected and
safe with you.
- Have children write or tell a story or draw a picture about their
concerns. Children often express emotion and deal with stressful
situations through play or expressive behavior. Ask children to tell you
a story about their concerns or help them to write about their feelings.
Read back to them and discuss. You may also have children draw pictures
about the things they are feeling. Ask them about the picture and what
- Establish and maintain consistent routines that provide security and
familiarity to children. Parents and other adults should create and
maintain routines that children can rely on for security. This might
include a particular routine at lunch, nap time, dinner or bed time. It
might involve reading stories each night, rough-and-tumble play, or
playing family games. Use these times to build security and reassure
- Show an example of self-control and positive response to stress.
Children learn how to respond to stress by watching adults. Adults ought
to set an example of self-control, maturity and positive resolution in
dealing with challenges. This will comfort children and create a secure
atmosphere for them.
"As adults care for children and help them deal with stress and
anxiety, they will also find themselves more able to deal constructively
with the consequences of these events," Brotherson says.
Source: Sean Brotherson, (701) 231-6143 , email@example.com
Editor: Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, firstname.lastname@example.org