How to Help Children Through Tragedy

By Ivy Bagley

Today is a date stuck in many of our minds. September 11. Recently, a young student asked me where I was on September 11 for a school project. Yes, I will never forget this date. I was on orientation at my first nursing job. A patient screamed out and staff raced to his room only to watch as the second tower was hit. The emotions, confusion, and anxiety can still be felt when I reflect on the events of that day.

I think it’s important to discuss our history and educate our children on tragedies in the world. We live in a world with shootings, bullying, and natural disasters.

School projects with interviews help children better emotionally to the event. However, as adults, it’s our job to make certain children are still protected and comforted after these events.

Here are a few tips to help children cope with tragedies.

-Reassure them– Help Children to realize they are safe. Offer comfort. Spend extra time with them.

-Be open and honest– Don’t try to hide the information. Keep the discussion to simple facts while keeping topics age appropriate. But, answer their questions.

-Remain Calm- Children need to see you are calm. This offers reassurance and helps them cope.

Maintain a normal routine- Try as much as possible to keep children on their normal schedules.

-Acknowledge feelings/emotions– Encourage discussion of their feelings. Talk to them about your feelings.

-Take Action– Allow them to collect items for victims, write cards for our first responders as a “thank you.” Help them bake cookies for local law enforcement.

-Limit the media exposure– This allows you to control a little more closely what is seen or heard.

-Counseling- If the event happens in your area or a child has trouble coping, seek out a professional counselor. They can be a “sound board” as well as offer tips for your family unit in coping.

We can’t avoid tragedies, but we can help our children learn coping skills that will help them face these challenges with a more positive focus.

Ivy M. Bagley, MSN FNP-C IBCLC

Ms. Bagley enjoys seeing patients of all ages at Children’s Health Services. Ms. Bagley has been a part of the CHS team since 2007. She is a board certified lactation consultant who works with breastfeeding moms/babies through office visits and their online breastfeeding support group. She recently obtained a Certificate of Advanced Education in Obesity Medicine and is an active member in OMA, AANP, ICLA, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and within the community. Recently, she began an online group, “Blessed and Healthy Families,” with the goal of educating families on overall health and well being- with a specific focus on obesity. Ms. Bagley also owns Creative Blessings Photography and serves many local groups through her photography. She enjoys her family and spending time traveling. As a Christian, Ms. Bagley enjoys spending time at the feet of Jesus. Her life verse is “All things work together for those who love The Lord.” Romans 8:28  

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