Helping Children and Teens Cope With Trauma

  • Be direct, simple, honest and appropriate. Explain truthfully what happened.

  • Listen to what the child or teen is feeling or asking you. Then respond according to the child or teen's needs and your own ability.

  • Encourage the child or teen to express feelings openly. Crying is normal and helpful. So are feelings of anger.

  • Accept the emotions and reactions the child or teen expresses. Don't tell the child or teen how she or he should or should not feel.

  • Share your feelings with the child or teen. Allow the child or teen to comfort you.

  • Offer warmth and your physical presense and affections.

  • Be patient. Know that children or teens need to hear and/or tell "the story" and to ask the same questions again and again.

  • Reassure the child or teen that the loss is not contagious; that the death of one person does not mean that another loved one will also die or be injured.

  • Maintain order, stability and security in the child or teen's life.

  • Take your own advice. Take care of yourself. If you're not okay, the child or teen cannot be okay.

  • Many counselors can assist in working through feelings. For a referral for assistance, please contact the Department of Juvenile Justice's Victim Advocate by sending an email or by calling the DJJ Victim Advocate toll free at 1-866-922-6360.