How to talk to kids about trauma

Credit: Yahoo.com

As the country saw the horrific bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon on television, we learned that there were adult and child victims. Television crews and photographers were at the finish of the race and they captured the raw footage. Every news channel covered the carnage and trauma. There was blood, smoke, yelling, death, and fear.

As we Americans experience the 24-hour news cycle of this deadly event, our children will hear about the Boston Marathon. Kids will talk about it in school and talk about what they saw on television. We adults are able to respond in healthy ways, but what about children? How are we to talk to children about traumatic events?

Keep Calm. Younger children may not hear much or anything about the trauma but keep to your family routine. Kids will look to adults and parents on how to act. If you act different children will see it. Older children might have seen the trauma on television and they will observe if their parents are freaking out about it. If possible, turn off the television and keep children focused on regular activities: games, bike riding, homework, sports, music etc… Your ability to keep calm will help your kids.

Listen. Children may have questions. Leave time to listen to their concerns. Children may ask, “Will this happen to me?” Or, “Will this happen again?”. The important thing to remember is to give children your attention and not to avoid the subject.

Respond. Do not lie to children about what happened. Keep it simple. Focus on the basic facts of the trauma. In Boston, for instance, say that someone hurt a group of people during an event. Continue to share with children how much they are loved and how they are safe from the perspective trauma. Tell them that good leaders take care of people when people are hurt (doctors, police, firefighters, etc…). Remind children that we take care of one another.

Empower. Older children can learn from the trauma. Remind and tell the stories of heroism. Encourage your kids to help others when in trouble. Teach them how to call 911 when needed. When some time has passed from the trauma, have your family practice what to do when someone needs help.

How to talk to kids about trauma is extremely important. Adults should not avoid the topic but reinforce how much children are loved and that they are safe. Evil is in the world but we are called to vanquish evil with the light of God and the goodness we can bring to those in need.

Alan Rudnick

Author's Website
About the Author
Alan Rudnick has been featured on television, radio, print, and social media and serves as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa, NY. He has quickly established himself as a leader, blogger, and commentator in the areas of faith, Christianity, ministry, and social media. He is the author of, “The Work of the Associate Pastor”, Judson Press. Alan’s writing has been featured with the Albany Times Union, The Christian Century, Associated Baptist Press, and The Fund of Theological Education. http://alanrudnick.org

Read more posts by