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advice for children

Added: (Thu Sep 13 2001)

Pressbox (Press Release) - Here are some guidelines just published by the America Psychiatric
Association on helping children (in particular) cope better with the
increasing and overwhelming news from the US. As a former consultant in
child trauma for UNICEF in Africa for many years, I feel this advice given
by the APA for helping children in the UK is extremely appropriate.
Hope you can publish and distribute. Thank you.
David P Tredrea 12 Harley Street, London W1G 9PG. Tel: 070 107 56789


Media ADVISORY
September 12, 2001, 4 p.m. EST
Release No. 01-57

Helping Children Cope with A National Tragedy

The American Psychiatric Association has prepared the following suggestions
to provide families with a starting point to talk with their children about
the recent terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. These include:

-- It is likely that any child aware of the incident will be affected by it.
Very young children may appear frightened; others may seem sad, anxious or
clingy. For this reason, helping your child grieve and discuss their
reactions to the terrorist attacks is extremely important. Feelings of
anger, fear and anxiety are all normal and appropriate reactions to tragic
incidents.

-- All children should be encouraged to talk about their feelings and
reactions to the tragic attacks. Every child needs a way to express their
fears and ask any questions they might have about the incidents. If you are
too distraught to speak with your children about the tragedy, ask someone
close to you - or them - to talk to them.

-- Limit how much TV coverage your children watch about the tragedy.
Watching constant replays of the attacks can embed the incident in the minds
of children.

-- Assure your children that they are safe. Let them know that law
enforcement are doing everything they can to prevent the attacks from
recurring, and that proper security measures are being put in place to keep
Americans safe.

-- When your children ask questions, answer them honestly, and use words and
concepts they can understand. It's OK to tell them there are some things
that nobody can explain.

-- Some children may need specific explanations about the attack repeated
several times. Acknowledge that the fear of the unknown - who the attackers
are, what happened to the victims, what happens to their families - can make
children even more worried. Tell your children that organizations like the
Red Cross, as well as local physicians and clergy, are doing everything
they can to help the victims and their families.

-- Young children may ask questions such as "Why did the pilots or God let
this happen?" or "What will happen to the children of the people who were
killed?" Older children, particularly adolescents, may be concerned about
what's next. A plausible explanation might be "There are some people who do
very bad things. They may be angry about something and think this is a good
way to get attention."

-- Talk to your child's teacher and find out what the school plans in terms
of discussion or support services. If your children are having difficulty
discussing their feelings, encourage them to draw pictures or write about
their feelings. This can help
reduce the level of fear and anxiety they might be experiencing.

-- Help your child resume a normal routine as quickly as possible. Children
will benefit from a sense of normalcy and stability, including familiar
activities, people and places.

-- While it is normal for a child to express feelings of anger, fear or
sadness after a tragic incident, if these feelings persist or worsen, it is
recommended that parents consult a mental health professional. Symptoms that
should be watched are anxiety, sleep disturbances, excessive fears and
social and/or academic problems.

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