Tragic Events

Support Following Tragic Events

A tragic event in our school, community or around the world can affect us all differently. It’s ok for children, teens or adults to feel sad, angry, confused or have questions. 

Your school staff is here to help. 

If you are concerned about your child or feel you need assistance following a tragic event, contact your school principal. They can draw upon the support of the OCDSB’s Tragic Events Response Team. This group of psychology and social work professionals assist students, staff and parents following a tragedy. 

Tips for Helping Children After a Tragedy

If you are struggling to talk to your children about tragic events there are lots of resources available.

It is important to remember that children look to their parents/guardians to help them feel safe.  We can do this by modeling calm for them and by recognizing their feelings of fear, and validate them as normal under the circumstances. This is true no matter what age your children are, whether they’re in kindergarten or Grade 12.. 

Consider the following tips for helping your children manage their distress.

Talk with your child. Talking to your children about their worries and concerns is the first step to help them feel safe and begin to cope with the events occurring around them. What you talk about and how you say it does depend on their age, but all children need to be able to know you are there listening to them.

Keep home a safe place. Children, regardless of age, often find home to be a safe haven when the world around them becomes overwhelming. During times of crisis, it is important to remember that your children may come home seeking the safe feeling they have being there. Help make it a place where your children find the solitude or comfort they need. Plan a night where everyone participates in a favorite family activity.

Watch for signs of stress, fear or anxiety. After a traumatic event, it is typical for children (and adults) to experience a wide range of emotions, including fearfulness, shock, anger, grief and anxiety. Your children's behaviors may change because of their response to the event. They may experience trouble sleeping, difficulty with concentrating on school work or changes in appetite. This is normal for everyone and should begin to disappear in a few months. Encourage your children to put their feelings into words by talking about them or journaling. Some children may find it helpful to express their feelings through art.

Take "news breaks." Your children may want to keep informed by gathering information about the event from the Internet, television or newspapers. It is important to limit the amount of time spent watching the news because constant exposure may actually heighten their anxiety and fears. Also, scheduling some breaks for yourself is important; allow yourself time to engage in activities you enjoy.

Take care of yourself. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your children. Be a model for your children on how to manage traumatic events. Keep regular schedules for activities such as family meals and exercise to help restore a sense of security and normalcy.

These tips and strategies can help you guide your children through the current crisis. If you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed, you may want to consider talking to someone who could help. A licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist or social worker can assist you in developing an appropriate strategy for moving forward. It is important to get professional help if you feel like you are unable to function or perform basic activities of daily living.

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