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How to support the children and the youth after a crisis event~

Updated on October 16, 2014
CrisSp profile image

CrisSp is your Emergency Specialist at 37 thousand feet. A writer without a niche. Wonderwoman consumed by wanderlust!

Humanity One World
Humanity One World

The shooting incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut shocked and saddened us. Our thoughts and prayers for the families and for those who died. I can’t imagine the sorrow and pain those families will have to bear for the rest of their lives, specially that it happened ten days before the advent season of hope and love.

Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut
Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut | Source

As we are all affected and in light of the event, this is the time to show our support to everyone especially in the entire school community. This is an important time for families and friends to come together and be the instruments in helping other children and youth understand and cope with the violence and loss of life.

But, how do we explain to our children and the youth that this kind of event is rather peculiar while the media is exaggerating every bit of information that they could in order to get the attention of the viewers. Our children have probably been told about how ugly and brutal the shooting was. At the same time, the accessibility of computer will make it more graphics for them to see how extreme the tragedy was. Images of disaster or crisis event can become overwhelming and with the easy access to media, they can even watch it repetitively.

Young children in particular may not be able to distinguish between images on TV and their personal reality. What would their reaction be seeing the graphics of the shooting? Some may display regression in their behavior upon learning of these upsetting circumstances. Be able to discuss what they see and help put it into perspective. They may have fears. A fear of separation or of darkness for example. They may have some unresolved feelings and that is why it is important to talk about the issues.

Violent incidents can change a person’s sense of security and while we continue to pray for all those affected by this recent school tragedy, here are some more practical tips for supporting the children and youth after a crisis event.

7 Ways to broaden the circle of care and love:

1. Spend time with your child – nothing is more valuable than to spend time with your child. As a family, it is always important particularly in difficult or sad times. Even if you’re not directly impacted by the incident, this is a good time to participate in and to appreciate family time. In doing so, you’re empowering the children by giving them the sense of stability and connectedness.

2. Listen and observe – Let the children talk, listen and observe their reactions. Let the children guide you to learn how concerned they are and see what they need. If you feel the need for more explanation, then sit down with the child and see how much information they need to understand the situation. If they are not focused on the tragedy, there’s no need to dwell any further. However, as young children may not be able to verbally express themselves properly, observe and pay attention to changes in their behavior or social interactions.

Teach the children divine reassurance.~PRAY
Teach the children divine reassurance.~PRAY | Source
A bestfriends' farewell letter to a boy who died in the Connecticut school shooting.
A bestfriends' farewell letter to a boy who died in the Connecticut school shooting. | Source

3. Be reassuring – children often take their emotional cues from their parents or any significant adults in their lives. They are also watching us and our reactions are most important. Be able to recognize that some children may be concerned that something bad may happen to them, to their family or friends. If this is the case, reassure the children. Explain the safety measures in place and let them feel your genuine support that you (and other adults) are there and will be there to take care of them. Do not over-react, be accepting and answer questions as simply and honestly as you can.

Most importantly, teach the children how to pray. Prayer is an act of worship and obedience. It is a way to acknowledge who truly is in control over our lives. Simply teach our children to speak to God--that alone is divine reassurance.

4. Exercise compassion and humanity – A large-scale tragedies like this often generate a tremendous outpouring of caring and support from around the community, the country and the world. Focus on helping and extending hopeful thoughts being offered by those affected by other people.

5. The value of resiliency – help children understands the ability of people to come through tragic event and go on with their lives. Emphasize people’s resiliency. Focus on children’s own competence in terms of how they coped in daily life during difficult times. In age-appropriate terms, identify other crises from which people, communities or countries have recovered.

6. Continuity and normalcy – it is important to maintain as much continuity and normalcy in the light of the event. Allowing children to deal with their reactions is important but so is providing a sense of normalcy. Don’t let them feel, it is the end of the world already. Routine family activities, after school extra curricular activities and meeting up with friends in their usual way can help the children feel more secure and better able to function.

7. Reach out, ask for help – any tragedy can feel overwhelming for families directly affected, particularly those who have lost their loved ones. So, stay connected to your community. Do not put yourself in isolation. It will be extremely helpful to grieve out loud without exaggerations. Do not hesitate to ask for additional professional help, like social and psychological works. It is always best to seek help to cope with overwhelming feelings.

Also, if you feel that you need assistance in dealing with some unsettling events, communicate with the school. The school board will be of great help. Children who are directly impacted by the disaster may be under a great deal of stress that can be very disruptive to learning and detrimental to health. Together, parents and teachers can determine what extra support or leniency the child may need. Teachers can absolutely work hand-in-hand with the parent(s) to develop a plan to help the child.

'This is our first task, caring for our children. If we don't get that right, we don't get anything right. That's how, as a society, we will be judged.' - Barack Obama in his passionate call for change at the height of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

Having said all these, be also aware of your own needs. Don’t ignore your own feelings of anxiety, grief and anger. Reach out, always reach out. There are people out there who will be more than happy to listen and help. Call a family member and friends. Talk to them about your own feelings and concerns. You will be better able to support your children if you can express your emotions in a productive manner.

It's heartbreaking and we endlessly weep. We show love and care to other people and wonder what's next or is it ever going to end?

Copyright@CrisSp~TM/12-2012. "The heart of my soul speaks to the soul of my heart by writing." ~

Here's to Humanity!

© 2012 CrisSp


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    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Millionaire Tips: Pleasure to see you here. Thank you for reading and voting.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      It is so hard to know how a child is taking such horrible news. I appreciate all these tips on helping our children understand and be more compassionate. Voted up.

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      MrsBrowns: My pleasure to share and thank you for coming by. Glad to see you here and I appreciate the compliments. I hope to sincerely help and lighten the loads of humanity through this hub. Please feel free to spread it around. Love from the sky~

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Your concern is commendable and your suggestions are so helpful and compassionate. These horrific, tragic events are traumatizing for all of us, especially little ones who don't know how to process it. Thank you for sharing this.

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      bizarrett81: Thank you for your readership. I'm glad to be of help through this hub. Take care.

    • bizarrett81 profile image


      5 years ago from Maine

      That was indeed a tragedy to all, and was tough to have that conversation with my five year old, to try to assure her that no one will do that in her school (when, I mean, can I really be sure it wont??). Thank you for this valuable information... voting up

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      @B. Leekley: Thank you for dropping by. Your readership and feedback are very much appreciated. May we all have a safe New Year!

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thoughtful, sensible, and well said.

      The five volume work CHILDREN IN CRISIS by child psychiatrist Robert Coles showed that children are indeed resiliant.

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Rosemay50: Thank you for your visit. I appreciate your feedback and voting up. Best wishes for the New Year.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      A sensitive, suuportive and practical hub to help parent nurture their children through this or any other tragedy. And of course a good reminder for parents to take care of themselves too, they need to be able to cope with the sorrow in order to help their children.

      Voting up

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Randi, first off--Merry Christmas to you! *hugs* Thank you for coming by today despite of your busy holiday schedules--very much appreciated. Love and Light,

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thgis was great, Cris! A perfect accompaniament to the H.O.W. pages! So much good advice for parents and educators in these horrible times! Thank you for sharing! Merry Christmas!

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      ishwaryaa22, thank you for everything. God bless the children. My heart cries out for them.

      Merry Christmas to you too! *hugs*

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 

      5 years ago from Chennai, India

      A sensible hub filled with valid points! I agree with your wise & considerate views concerning teaching children how to deal and cope in the times of shocking tragedies. Well-done!

      Merry Christmas to you & your family.

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Beautiful. Voted up & shared on Facebook

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Rasma dear, always good to see that lovely face in here. Thank you for your readership, friendship and all the support. I sincerely appreciate you.

      Love from the sky~

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Maria dear, just as I said earlier, the children--they are the heart of the matter and without a backbone (adults to support them), they'll be lost. I commend you and HoneyBB for your efforts, commitment and dedication to reading in honor of Chase Kowalski--that's a noble task.

      Thank you for everything. Hugs back to you and merry Christmas.

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      HoneyBB, I commend you for your effort and dedication to reading specially in the light of the Sandy Hook tragedy. That is very inspirational, indeed. Thank you for your support.

      Love and light,

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Rich, you nailed it with your comments. Very simple and straight to the point...we've got to get back to the basics. What is not to understand?

      Thank you and best wishes back to you on Christmas and the coming year.

      Peace and love~

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Michelle, thank you for your feedback and for sharing. Just catching up on reading and although I'm tired, reading comments like this energizes me. Merry Christmas to you.

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      aviannovice, oh no, not another shooting incident. *sad face* As I said in this hub, violence, is it ever going to end? Let's hope and pray.....thank you for stopping by.

      Peace and love to you~

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Ericdierker, appreciate your boldness and thank you for your feedback. Balance, indeed is necessary and sympathy and empathy should go parallel with each other specially in line of the recent tragedy. It will be hard, after all to show sincere empathy without sympathy.

      Love and light to you,

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      hawaiianodysseus - thank you for your kind words. There is no higher gratification than to help save these beautiful souls in any way we can and I oblige.

      Always happy to see you hawaiianodysseus. Best wishes to you (and yours) this Christmas and the coming year.

      Love from the sky~

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Dear Bill,

      Thank you. Your hard work and initiative in waking up humanity is working. I'm glad to be able to contribute in a small way.

      Merry Christmas to you (and Bev) and best wishes for the coming year.

      Love from the sky~

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Thank you xstatic, pleasure to see you here.

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Hi Jenn! Thanks for dropping by. Nothing beats the time we spend with our children--it is precious. Regards, Cris~

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Thank you Linda. I'm glad you appreciate the message, it is the children after all that is the heart of the matter. Happy to see you here. Merry Christmas to you and all the best for the coming year. Love from the sky~

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      This is voted up and awesome. A wonderful hub with a message of hope and inspiration. Passing this on.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      CrisSp, I love your angelic ministry of healing. Thank you for getting to the heart of the matter--the children.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      What a meaningful and beautifully supportive piece to help our children, who should never have to be subjected to such horrors. I appreciate that you remind parents to take care of their own needs as well, in the grief process.

      The song you selected is wondrous and a perfect accompaniment.

      I am proud to follow Honey BB as I have accepted her challenge today. This is the 11th of 26 hubs that I will read today.

      This is in honor of Chase Kowalski (10-31-05) and may his sweet soul rest in peace.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours. Hugs, Maria

    • HoneyBB profile image

      H Lax 

      5 years ago

      Excellent information on how people should handle the aftermath of tragedies with their children. Making sure our children know that they have someone to talk to or ask questions of is vital to their futures. This is my fifth read in the 26 I am reading today in honor of the Sandy Hook victims. I read this in memory of Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female

    • rcrumple profile image


      5 years ago from Kentucky

      Christina - Really a great hub. We've got to get back to the basics you describe so well. Very well done! May the holidays bring you much peace and love!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      A great hub for those who are experiencing trauma. It is not sympathy that anyone in this position wants, but empathy and understanding. Thanks for sharing, Christina.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Great words to allow people to be able to handle their personal feelings. There were two shootings at two schools in Oklahoma. A friend has pulled her daughter out school, as she is afraid to be there and has been asking for a while to leave that school.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Allow me to be bold. It seems you are saying that to really help youth, sympathy is fine but empathy is required. Great hub voted up.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A wonderful hub Cris! Very proactive and so badly needed right now. This should be required reading for every parent in this country. Thank you!

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 

      5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      A beautiful and inspirational hub. This is exactly where we need to start.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Can't wait to go home to spend quality time with my kids :)

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 

      5 years ago from Central Virginia

      This is a great resource fr anyone experiencing a crisis. Children are so resilient but also sensitive. Providing the right support can make all the difference in how they process the feelings afterwards. I applaud you for this one.


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