The Aftermath of Tragedy

One of my children asked me to tell parents everywhere to please turn off their TV’s and radios when their kids are around. He has a good point: children do not need to watch images of destruction over and over again. Most children do need (as far as possible) to see that even tragedies of this magnitude do not destroy their day-to-day lives. Keeping up routines is very reassuring, Of course, some kids’ lives have been shattered. Those children who are directly impacted, need immediate and long-term support from those around them. Either way, children need strong connections with the significant children and adults in their lives.

It’s important to spend time together, and to engage any questions or comments that come up as you do. Out of nowhere, my youngest commented that he hopes the war doesn’t start soon. When I repeated his wish, he explained further that when the war does start, they will bomb his school. This opened up a key, reassuring conversation. Create an atmosphere of calm attention that encourages questions and comments. Don’t be afraid to answer the questions kids ask or to explore together their comments. We each give the other so much when we are together.

When spending time together hugs and squeezes can communicate love and security even better than words. If they ask the same question over and over again, physical closeness is especially important. If they ask a question you don’t know the answer to, it’s okay to say you don’t know, but that we do know… (and give a brief, objective list of things we do know).

You may want to set aside a moment of silence or a time of prayer in your family to create a space for the solemnity of these events and the peace of going through them together.

Some children will sail through this with hardly a thought. For others, the impact will be profound. Please join me in chat to discuss more specifics on moving through this time with our children. Or stop by chat anytime to share experiences and questions with other parents.

Published on: September 12, 2001
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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