Helping Children cope with traumatic events

Discussion in 'Youth Forum' started by SaggyWoman, Sep 13, 2001.

  1. SaggyWoman

    SaggyWoman
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    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.
     
  2. Joy

    Joy
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    Thanks, Saggy! Even my 4 year old is confused about what happened. She came in the living room late Tuesday nite, and wanted to know why I was still watching "this." It looked like the same show all day to her. Her Dad and I just briefly told her that some bad men had crashed some airplanes into some very big buildings, and that many people had been hurt or killed. We assured her that although Daddy and Mommy were upset by what happened, that everything was going to be ok, because God was taking care of us.

    It might not have been so easy if she were 8 yrs. old! :eek:

    [ September 13, 2001: Message edited by: Joy2 ]
     
  3. SaggyWoman

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  4. myreflection26

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    I think its a good idea to share our fears as adults with our children too and to tell them God is in control is good.

    Something that was said on the radio I thought was good, they said don't tell your kids we are safe because we are not promised that but tell them that mommy and daddy love them no matter what and we will do our best to protect them in any way possible, in addition to that I think its a good idea to tell them that Jesus loves them too and Jesus is with them to help them as well.

    Just some ideas :D
    Sue
     
  5. FundamentalDan

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    Friday, I spent some time explaining to a little 11-year-old girl about war. She had heard the news talk about war and thought that meant that everyone, including the kids, would have to go and fight. When I told her that we do not send kids to fight usually, she asked if her mom would have to go. You might also be aware of the misunderstandings that kids can get from the constant news coverage.


    FundamentalDan
     
  6. Nicole

    Nicole
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    I received the following information and really liked what I saw: It's long, but it really is good and better than anything, it has some great scripture to go over with kids. My four year old son understood perfectly regarding the verses that speak of God's protection..'faith like a child'

    Climbing into the Heart of God:
    Praying with Children in the Midst of Tragedy
    Cheri Fuller
    “Prayer is climbing up into the heart of God,” said Martin Luther. If there was ever a time we as families and individuals needed to climb into the heart of God, the loving arms of God, and to the throne of God for the mercy, grace, and help in time of need He offers for those who come (Heb. 4:16)—it is now in the midst of this national tragedy.
    But when you pray, when you come to God, let me encourage you to not leave out the children (See Luke 18:16-17). Kids are affected in profound ways by a disaster—whether in their own city or across the country. They watch the news and see the graphic pictures. Children's fears and anxieties can escalate as they hear about the terrorism from school friends or in classrooms. Help them turn their concerns into prayer and action.
    Here are some ways to pray with children and help them deal with the disaster:
    Pray together! After you watch the TV news to get updated on what's happened, turn it off and pray as a family for New York City, Washington, D.C., and our nation’s leaders and rescue workers, or whatever you and your kids have just seen. (Avoid overexposing children to media reports or traumatizing them with seeing scenes of the tragedy over and over.)
    Pray God's Word. Praying Bible prayers can bring peace and confidence into the hearts of children—and adults—helping us pray in accordance with His word and focus on God, not just the tragedy. “Lord, under Your wings we seek refuge. Your faithfulness is a shield and bulwark . . . Thank you that you said we can call upon You and You would answer us and be with us in trouble, rescue us so we can honor You” (Ps. 91:4,15). “Lord, you said you are near to the brokenhearted and save those who are crushed in spirit. Be close to those who are brokenhearted and have lost loved ones. Help them draw near to You so You can comfort them” (Psalm 34:18). “God, You are our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
    Make prayer stations. When killer tornadoes devastated parts of Oklahoma City where we lived two years ago, I took newspaper photos of children whose lives had been profoundly affected by the tornadoes, and then made prayer stations for the kids aged six through twelve in our “Prayer Class.” In small groups, the kids, adult leaders, and I went from station to station and prayed individually for Levi, whose home and birthday; presents had been blown away on his fourth birthday; for Brian, whose mom had died in the tornado, and for other victims.
    Then we had the kids sign cards for each of the children, writing their own messages and prayers and sent these. The children felt their prayers had made a difference, and were encouraged to keep praying with their parents when they went home.
    If you’re a homeschool mom or teacher, you could make prayer stations by laminating photos from the newspaper or magazines. Then put the photos at each prayer stop and have the children pray for:
    • The President and Vice President, leaders of Congress, Senate, and military to make wise decisions
    • Victims and their families
    • Firemen, policemen, and rescue workers
    • Children affected by the tragedy
    Put feet to your prayers. In any tragedy or disaster, there are opportunities to serve others. When children have a chance to help, they don't feel quite as helpless and sad. If donations are needed, let your kids help collect them and deliver them to the collection site. Kids of Oklahoma City sent “Hope Bears,” teddy bears with notes and prayers from kids attached, that were going to be delivered to every elementary school in New York City and Washington, D.C. Your kids could make a card for the rescue workers and send it to the mayor's office, or make a banner with handprints dipped in acrylic paint and messages of hope. Even if they are too young to write, kids can draw pictures and send them to people in need. After praying, brainstorm with them about what they could do.
    Finally, listen to the children. Active listening is important—not dismissing their fears, but patiently hearing their hearts and assuring them that God is watching over them, that He never slumbers or sleeps (Psalm 121) and will protect and care for them. Fill their emotional tanks with plenty of hugs and affection. Keep daily routines.
    Join with others at your church and in your community and be a role model to your children, letting them know that even in our feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, we can turn to God, who is all-powerful and will never fail us or forsake us.
    © Copyright 2001 Cheri Fuller, www.cherifuller.com.
    author of Opening Your Child's Spiritual Windows and When Children Pray,
    and founder of Families Pray USA.
    Cheri is on the advisory editorial team for PrayKids!.


    The following are specific prayers and prayer points for parents and children to pray regarding the recent tragedy.
    These are written by Pray! and PrayKids! staff member Sandra Higley.

    Kids Prayer Points
    Do you want to pray for kids just like you who are hurting because of what happened? Here are some ways to pray:

    • Pray for the kids who saw such awful things that they cannot sleep at night:
    “Lord, keep the minds of these children on You so that they can rest in perfect peace. Help them trust You” (Isaiah 26:3).
    • Pray for the kids who have lost parents in this tragedy:
    “Thank You, Father, for hearing all of the desires of the children who are hurting because of what has happened in our nation—thank You for listening to them and encouraging them and defending them. Especially the children who have lost parents. Thank You for being Father to them” (Psalm 10:17, 18).
    • Pray for the kids who need comfort in all different ways right now:
    “Praise You, God, You are the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort; comfort the little ones in their troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
    • Pray for the kids who need to know how much Jesus loves them:
    “Jesus, You wanted the little children to come to You. I pray for the kids who don't know about Your love—let them hear about it so that they can believe in You!” (Matthew 19:14; Romans 10:17).
    • Are you afraid right now because of things you have seen and heard on TV? You can pray this prayer:
    “Thank You for watching over me when I get up in the morning and when I go to sleep at night. You are everywhere, Father, and I thank You that Your hand is resting on me (Psalm 139:1-10). Even when we walk in the middle of trouble, You stretch out your hand against our enemies!” (Psalm 138:7).

    ©2001 Pray! magazine. All Rights Reserved. Permission granted to reproduce in entirety for non-commercial use only.
     

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