Things parents can do for themselves:

  • Recognise emotions; ignoring them will not make them disappear.
  • Give yourself time for mourning and healing. Know that you will get through this.
  • Don’t expect too much of yourself or others.
  • Respect that people cope with crises differently, this includes your loved ones.
  • Know what you can and cannot change. Focus on the things you can change, this will reduce stress.
  • Seek support from family and friends. Ask for professional assistance if needed.
  • Be aware that your children are influenced by how you are managing the crisis. Children will learn coping strategies through seeing how you manage the situation and yourself.
  • Even when you are in despair, your children need to know you are still the grown up that is there for them.
  • Make time for relaxation and self-care.

Things parents can do for their children:

  • Try not to overreact. Your panic can frighten the children.
  • Take charge when you need to, it will make the children feel more safe and calm.
  • Talk to the children about what is happening, even though it is difficult.
  • Calm yourself before talking about the event. Ensure the children that you will all get through this.
  • Provide enough information for the children to understand what has happened. Ask if they have other questions. Avoid unnecessary details.
  • Make it simple and use words children understand. Say that someone is “dead” rather than “gone”.
  • Children may need even very simple things to be repeated many times.
  • Give the children opportunities to express their emotions to you and other family members.
  • Give children time and space to express their emotions through playing, drawing, writing or storytelling. Children who are angry can benefit from energetic play for emotional regulation.
  • Let the children spend time with family and friends who can provide support.
  • It is ok for the children to see you in despair. Talk to them about your emotions and let them know you are trying to cope with the crisis. Children will learn about coping by observing your reactions.
  • Explain to the children that it’s not their responsibility to take care of you, to make you feel better or to solve the problems.
  • Spend more time with young children at bedtime. A night-light can help those that are afraid of the dark.
  • Spend time doing enjoyable activities together.
  • Be patient with the child’s behaviour.
  • Limit the child’s exposure to media images of accidents and disasters. If they are watching, be present and talk to them.
  • Make sure the children are eating well. Ensure opportunities for both activity and rest.