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Supporting kids after scary events

If you're looking for ways to support your tamariki after a scary event, these resources can help.

Tips for helping children cope

Scary or surprising events can be frightening for everyone involved, and especially for children who may not understand what’s happened. Long after they are over, scary experiences can continue to affect children’s emotions, thoughts and behaviour.

Supporting our kids and whānau

Parents, kids will cue off you — so if you’re okay (see our tips here), they’ll be okay too...

  • Be mindful how much ‘worry’ you’re displaying, just be as cool as you can!
  • In the event of a natural disaster like a flood, fire or earthquake, reassure them that the world hasn't changed, and that this is an unusual situation.
  • Limit their exposure to the news media.
  • When you listen you don't need to solve, you just need to listen and be empathic. Feelings usually retreat after a short while if they are listened to and acknowledged.
  • Let them talk about it, but don’t let it ‘take over’ - use distraction to keep their mind off it - we’ve got the board games out!
  • Answer their questions pretty matter of factly and in very ‘general’ terms. Drama it down. You don’t have to get the answers exactly right here. Keep the reassurance low key too — over-reassuring can make us think we need to be worrying more than we are!
  • If your children (or you!) are a bit panicky, take those long deep breaths or see our parenting guide on worry.

For parents of teens...

  • Try and keep them off or away from the social media as much as you can, while allowing them to use it to check in on friends and support each other.
  • Let them know there’s a lot of hype out there.
  • Say that you’re sticking with credible sources of information as they report only the things released by the police and people actually ‘in the know’.
  • If they are really affected by this ‘hype’ tell them it’s time to put the phone down or away. Keep the reassurance low key too.
  • Stick to your normal routines as much as you can.

You've got this!

Calming activities for kids

For simple tips and activities on how to support kids through challenging times (as well as ideas for helping them feel good, find calm and be kind) check out Sparklers at Home.

Supporting Children After A Crisis

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