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How to help children coping with tragedy, heading into summer

Posted at 6:48 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 19:48:26-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In the wake of a tragedy, like the school shooting in Uvalde, how do parents help children cope? And what’s the significance of summer break approaching?

“Nobody wants to actually remember the last days of school being exposed to something like that,” said Dr. Nauman Khan, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Driscoll Children's Hospital.

Throughout the school year, children are in a routine. It’s like that because Khan said it’s important for child development, behavior regulation and learning.

After a tragedy like the shooting in Uvalde, it’s important for children to find stability.

“Resuming your normal activities is extremely important," he said. "It builds confidence within the kids. It shows them, 'my parents they feel safe, so I should in turn feel safe.'”

Particularly with teens, he said it's good for them if you keep your expectations of them.

"Sometimes what will happen is we'll parent out of guilt and we will refrain from enforcing our rules and maintaining the same expectations, such as chores, coming home at the same time, not hanging out with that person," Khan said.

For parents concerned, professionals agree having an honest conversation about the tragedy should happen.

“Addressing your child’s feelings and talking to them in words that they understand and not minimizing what they’re feeling. Actually, going after it with full force and hearing them out listening to them,” Khan said.

“Parents should reassure their children that schools are a safe place to be. We have procedures in place, we have drills," Candice Fricke said, coordinator for mental health services at the Corpus Christi Independent School District. "Parents also want to reassure their children that they love them and that things are going to be OK.”

Fricke said the CCISD has their counselors and social workers available at each school to students.

You can find a list of hot line numbers for families in need of counseling on CCISD's website.

Khan said there are signs to look for if your children aren’t coping well.

“In the younger folks, you see more of externalizing behaviors such as acting out, temper tantrums, being more aggressive. And then in the older folks, what you see more of is internalizing symptoms,” said Khan.

Khan added there national resource centers that can help you online, such as: Victims Connect, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

He also mentioned there are movements parents can get involved in related to school shootings such as Everytown for Gun Safety.

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