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Help Children Recover and Find Peace

Father son picnic

Images of law enforcement officers with weapons raised, terrified young people with their arms in the air, and horrified parents with anguished expressions. 

These are the pictures that splash across America's screens when there is a shooting inside a school, mall or movie theater. It's all too tragic and far too familiar. 

In the aftermath of such traumatic events, kids can struggle to make sense of what happened and suffer physically and emotionally. As a parent, it's important that you be there for your children and be aware of any atypical behaviors they express.  

To help get your children through a traumatic event, remember:

  • Everyone responds differently to trauma. Thankfully, most children and teens are resilient. Even though it was a horrible experience, most will bounce back on their own.
  • Children with emotional or behavioral problems may be more affected by what happened. Their exposure to news about an event should be limited, and you should monitor their behaviors for weeks and even months after the incident. 
  • Seek professional help if, a month after the event, your child remains so distressed that it interferes with his or her ability to perform daily routines.
  • Promote the healing process by listening and allowing your children to share their feelings. Let your children know it's okay for them to feel however they feel.
  • Encourage your children to return to their regular activities - getting back to school and socializing with friends - as soon as possible.   
  • Allow your children to grieve for those killed or injured. Religious ceremonies, vigils, moments of silence, tributes and funerals are ways to honor victims while providing a release for those left behind to mourn. 

For additional advice, help and resources on parenting through a crisis situation, contact the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000. Trained counselors are available 24/7.