Helping your child through something upsetting can feel overwhelming, but here are 4 easy steps to start calming and reassuring your child.
Hear what your child is saying about what has scared them. Familiar, everyday events can be new but frightening to children. TV, movies and stories they hear can make them feel that their world is unsafe. Listen to what they’re saying to you.
Emotion. A crisis creates its own energy
Help your child release that emotional energy in appropriate ways. Drawing pictures of what happened, talking about what they’re thinking about, (sometimes over and over), acting out with blocks, dolls or other toys of what they saw; or for older children journalizing their feelings is helpful.
Love and reassurance. Children need to be comforted with an adult’s loving presence. They need to be reassured that they are OK and that the adults are working to correct the situation and make things safe again. Tell children they are not alone, and that you will help them through this.
Practice with your child how they can stay safe. Play “what if” games such as “what if the house caught on fire?” Help your child think in advance about what they should do in a frightening situation. Teach children how to get help, such as dialing “911”. Give children tools and resources which will help reassure them that they are not powerless in a crisis.