Rebecca Calabrese, MSW from Waterbury spoke with John Rowland today about the best ways to help children cope with traumatic situations.
It is a tragedy that anyone, especially a child, should have to live through a horrific experience like today’s shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, but Calabrese, a Counselor who specializes in Trauma, Children and Families, shared best practice advice on how to help young victims through a shocking ordeal such as this.
The first thing to remind a child is that they are safe. Once they are comfortable with their own safety, you can explain candidly to them.
Explain that sometimes, bad things happen in the world– be honest and make sure they feel safe… and let children approach the topic. Children will likely approach a potential grief topic on their own, and the most important thing adults can do for them is to simply listen.
Kids may be afraid that the killer would come after them, but again, honesty and safety are thing things to emphasize here. Let them know that the killer is not alive, and there is no way for him to come back. Be sure NOT to include any white lies– such as saying the Police killed the gunman, instead of an apparent suicide. “When you provide honesty, you are building trust with a child,” Calabrese said.
Separation anxiety is a common reaction to horrible tragedies such as this shooting, so be sure to spend a little extra time and attention with your children in the wake of this unsettling time. Sticking with your kids a little closer than usual will help them feel safe and secure, and know that you are a resource they can rely on.
Listen to the entire interview with Rebecca Calabrese right here: