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25 May 2017

How can you help your child cope with traumatic news?

In light of recent events overseas, we have put together 5 tips to help you guide and support your child as they process and deal with shocking stories in the news.

Who better to guide us through these tips than Chris Gostelow, the Department’s manager of school psychology service.

1. Try to limit what they see and hear

“Some vision and language may be alarming or too graphic for children,” Mr Gostelow said.

“For young children, limit the type and amount of news that they see on TV or hear on the radio. 

“Control what they are looking at online – if possible make sure that you are with them when they see or hear sad or scary news.”


2. Be careful of your own reactions in front of your children

“It is important that you are calm and reassuring in front of your children,” he said.

“While you may be feeling a whole range of emotions – as we all are in these situations – your reaction will model how your children may respond.”

3. Answer their questions

“It’s their nature, children are curious, be available to respond to their questions and clarify any of their concerns. Even if you don’t have all the answers you can reassure them that their world is mostly a safe place.

“It is important to note that children may want to ask questions both at the time and intermittently afterwards.”

4. Spend time together

“Make sure that you maintain your usual routines, but also take some time to do something fun. Go for a walk or read a book together,” he said.

5. Watch for signs of distress

“Everyone reacts differently, and your child may show some signs that they have been affected by seeing or hearing about a traumatic event,” he said.

“Things to watch for include major changes to:

  • Sleeping
  • Eating
  • Independence (clinginess)
  • Anger
  • Unrealistic fear and anxiety.

“Be mindful that for some children watching and listening to graphic news may raise previous traumatic situations they have experienced themselves or seen online or on television.

“If you are concerned about your child showing some of these signs you can seek professional support from your school and the school psychologist.”



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