Helping Children Cope with a Traumatic Event Darren K. Martin, PhD www.christiancounseling.com Christian Counseling Associates Signs of Anxiety/Stress in Children 1. Increased emotions 2. Physical complaints (particularly stomach aches) 3. Sleep difficulties (waking up, nightmares) 4. Anxiety about being away from parents 5. Increased attachment to adults 6. Increased irritability or expressions of anger Ways to Help 1. Have the child write a story about the traumatic event. They may write a news story or send a letter to a friend. 2. Have the child draw a picture of their feelings about the event. 3. Invite the child to talk about the tragedy including: a. What they heard through the media b. What they heard through friends (gently clarify major misunderstandings) 4. Point out fortunate aspects including: a. Heroes of the event b. How the family/community pulled together 5. Invite the child to talk about their fears a. Discuss your own fears with the child b. Inquire about any fears they have; hear these fully without minimizing them c. Acknowledge their fears, i.e. “I can understand how that would be scary for you. I’m sure it will become less scary soon.” 6. Plan a family project to help victims of the event. a. Send notes of encouragement to those impacted b. Pray for victims as a family 7. Attend worship services at a local church. God is “an ever present help in times of trouble” and will be source of your family’s greatest comfort. 8. Use appropriate scripture to reassure your kids including Psalm 27:1, Matthew 10:28-30, Hebrews 13:5-6, Psalm 91:1-2, Romans 8:38-39.