Expert Advice On Discussing Trauma With ChildrenContact: Finnegan, Lisa
NEW YORK (Sept. 13, 2001) -- As we attempt to regain a sense of normalcy in the wake of the tragic events of Sept. 11, it is important that educators and parents talk to children, said Vincent C. Alfonso, Ph.D., an associate professor and a school psychologist at Fordham University's Graduate School of Education.
"In times of trauma, children have many questions they would like to have answered and it is important for parents, teachers and other adults to address their questions in honest and easily understood terms," said Alfonso. "We want to reassure children that they are safe, so as not to increase their fears and anxieties."
According to Alfonso, the following is a list of suggestions to help parents and educators communicate with children:
Listen to your children and allow them to ask questions. Do not dictate the course of the conversation, making it uncomfortable for them to bring up spontaneous questions.
Respond with honest answers and use terms that are appropriate to each child's age and developmental level.
Reassure children of their safety and that they can continue to rely on adults to protect them.
Increase the amount of family activities so that there is more opportunity for discussion and an increased sense of familial security.
Recognize that some children may not be affected right away by these events. Parents and educators should stay in tune with changes in children's language, affect and behavior.
Founded in 1841, Fordham is New York City's Jesuit University. It has residential campuses in the north Bronx, Manhattan and Tarrytown, and the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y.