A School Counselor’s Perspective on Coping with Traumatic Events

A School Counselor’s Perspective on Coping with Traumatic Events

by Mollie O'Brien, School Counselor

Since there has been so much going on in the news lately regarding trouble in our schools, it’s important to understand how to help your children handle these unpredictable events. As Educators and as parents, it is important to realize that there is always the possibility of unforeseeable events. This can be scary for kids to think about and even harder to talk about.

The American Psychological Association provides some tips for helping children manage the distress that occurs after a traumatic event:

Talk with your child about the event. Finding the right times when kids are most likely to want to talk is important (such as in the car, before dinner, bedtime, etc). Start the conversation by expressing that you want to know how they are feeling about everything. Listen thoroughly without interrupting to get the best information. Expressing your opinion is helpful, but without putting theirs down.

Try to keep home a safe place free from worry. Remind your children that you are always there to provide safety, comfort, and support. Hugs always help too!

Be on the lookout for any signs of stress, fear, or anxiety. If your child’s behavior has noticeably changed, encourage them to talk about these feelings or even write them down in a journal. If the changes persist, contact your pediatrician or School Counselor.

Take breaks from watching the news. Limit the amount of time they spend watching the news because constant exposure could heighten the anxiety surrounding the event.

Take care of yourself. Be a model for your child to restore a sense of normalcy and security.

These are just some tips that might help when dealing with grief, anxiety, or fear that often times follow life’s unpredictable events. If you know of someone struggling to cope with these feelings, encourage them to talk to someone they know and trust.

Mollie O’Brien is the School Counselor for Waukesha Catholic, a K3 – 8th grade Catholic school in Waukesha. Mollie personally works with each grade level using both classroom lessons and one-on-one time as needed.