Nebraska DHHS Emergency Preparedness

Talking with Children

Here's some advice on how to communicate with children and adolescents during times of crisis:

  • Parents should watch their children for reactions to the incidents. Children should be given truthful answers to their questions. Avoiding the issue may only increase their fears and anxieties. Limit their viewing of the media coverage and make sure it's appropriate to the age of the child.
  • It’s important to tell children that they’re safe. Given what they may have seen on television, they need to know that the violence is isolated to certain areas and they will not be harmed. Parents should try to assure children that they’ve done everything they can to keep their children safe.
  • Adolescents in particular can be hard hit by these kinds of events and parents should watch for signs such as sleep disturbances, fatigue, lack of pleasure in activities enjoyed previously, and initiation of illicit substance abuse.
  • Adults need to help children understand the significance of these events. There are people who do bad things out there, but not all people of a particular group are bad. Lashing out at members of a particular religious or ethnic group is not appropriate.

Useful Links

  • Connect for Kids has compiled some of the Web's strongest resources for parents, teachers and community members, to help all of our nation's children work through the tragic and unprecedented events of September 11, 2001.
  • The Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) works in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in overseeing national efforts to provide emergency mental health services to survivors of Presidentially-declared disasters.

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