Following a tragic or critical incident, parents/guardians may notice one or more of the feelings and behaviors listed below as your child copes and processes the incident.
It is important to note that some children show no outward signs of being upset. Other children may not give evidence of being upset until several weeks or months after the incident. Remember these are normal reactions. By showing patience and acceptance, you will reassure your child and encourage the process of getting back to a normal routine.
Feelings and behaviors demonstrated by elementary-aged children
- Anger by pouting, hitting, kicking, or throwing things.
- Restlessness and high activity level or lack of focus.
- Anxiety about what will happen to them.
- fear of being left alone; may have bad dreams or want to sleep with a parent or sibling.
- Clinging to a parent.
- Afraid something will happen to their parent or to themselves.
- Upset at the loss of a favorite toy, game, etc.
- Crying or becoming quiet, withdrawn and not wanting to talk about the incident.
- fear of going back to school; not wanting to separate from parents.
- Afraid of loud noises and storms.
What Parents and Teachers Can Do to Help
- Talk to your child. Be patient and give simple, accurate information. Talk about feelings. “It’s okay to be sad and to cry.”
- Listen to what your child says and how he/she feels. Watch for behaviors that give clues to stress, fear and anxiety.
- Reassure your child. Have your child follow his/her normal routine.
- Spend time with your child. Give extra hugs. Touching provides comfort and security.
- Observe your child at play or talking with friends and listen for concerns expressed.
- Provide activities for your child to express himself/herself such as drawing, writing, playing a sport, etc. These activities help a child release tension.
- Ask for help for yourself or your child if these emotions last for an extended period of time.
- Try and keep routines as normal as possible. Children gain security from the predictability of routine, including attending school.
- Limit exposure to television and the news.
- Be honest with your child and share with as much information as they are developmentally able to handle.
- Listen to your child’s fears and concerns.
- Reassure your child that the world is a good place to be, but that there are people who do bad things.
Contact the Helpline for Assistance: (757) 788-0635
Newport News Public Schools has established a 24-hour helpline, (757) 788-0635, managed by our partners at the Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board to support families and staff.
Licensed therapists are available to assist parents and staff with tips for talking with children, counseling services and resource referrals.