Strategies to support children in emotional crisis
Children can have reactions to any demanding and stressful circumstance such as death, illness, natural disaster, robbery, crisis or trauma. You can help them cope with their reactions. Your genuine support can help return the child’s emotional state back to normal. Here are some support strategies you may choose to try:
- Answer questions simply and honestly
- Give responsible reassurances
- Do not make promises you can’t keep
- Provide physical comfort
- Help child identify, name and express feelings
- Permit time-limited regressive behaviors
- Encourage the grief process for any loss including loss of pet or a residential change
- Reduce exposure to media that reenacts traumatic events (i.e. natural disaster, terrorist attack)
- Encourage physical play
- Encourage drawing–often children cannot put words to their feelings, but can draw a representation of them
- Pay special attention to teenagers–they may not show their need
- Do not minimize teenager’s response
If the child’s responses continue for several weeks and do not diminish over time, it is important that you seek consultation from a physician or a counselor.
Within King County, Washington, you can anonymously and confidentially talk with a professionally trained volunteer about the situation and obtain a referral to a mental health counselor by contacting the 24-Hour Crisis Line.