1.Maintain Structure/Support/Regular Routine. Keep family routines as close to normal as possible, such as meal times, activities, and bedtimes. Continue school attendance if at all possible.
2.Manage Information. Limit TV viewing of the event to no more than 15 minutes for children under 5 years old each day, 30 minutes for children ages 5-12. When these limits are exceeded parental presence and support is recommended. Allow time for discussion. Try to gauge how stressed the child is becoming when viewing the event on TV.
3.Listen to the Child. Children may experience depression, sadness, anxiety, fears, and anger. It is a normal response for children to regress when emotions are heightened by a traumatic event. Children may experience a return to earlier behavior, such as thumb sucking and bed wetting. Children may be more clinging to parents, and more frightened of sleeping or being in the dark. Adults should provide lots of reassurance “it will be okay”, “I will keep you safe”.
4.Be Careful What You Say to the Child. Reinforce that adults will keep the child safe. Don’t talk about destruction, WWIII, racial or ethnic issues related or suspected to be related to the event. If you are angry and need to vent, do so with another adult in a private place.
5.Humor is Okay. If it is inappropriate, gently redirect it. Distraction is okay. Have the child play games, color, draw.
6.How is the Child Feeling? It is okay to ask how the child is feeling; also to inquire what specifics are making the child feel bad. For very upset children, it is reasonable to ask questions regarding self-harm or aggressive thoughts.
7.How Adults Feel. Adults, staff, and parents may feel overwhelmed. When this happens, talk to other adults, not to or in front of children. Taking time to talk to each other or to vent can be helpful to facilitate an ability to work more constructively.
8.When More is Needed. When does a child or family member need assessment or further intervention? When there is evidence of intense anxiety or avoidance behaviors, physical symptoms such as persistent nausea, persistent headaches, weight loss or gain, frequent nightmares or other sleep disturbance, or an inability to focus on other life events.
– Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati