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April 17, 2013

10 ways to help children cope during a crisis

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6. Watch for changes in your children’s behavior. Signs of moodiness, nightmares, sleep and eating disturbances can indicate that your child is in “fright mode.” Watch for increased anxiety in reaction to more immediate life issues (upcoming tests, exams, performances). Take these signs seriously and attempt to address them by offering more support through extra time together, and by offering more reassurance. If that does not help calm the symptoms, pursue outside consultation with your pediatrician.

7. Help children remain in their routines and/or return them to routine as soon as possible. Getting them to engage fully in their busy, active daily lives will distract them from the tragedy and remind them of what is good in their own lives.

8. Know and believe that everyone, even children and teens, is resilient and do overcome stress and the aftermath of a crisis to return to baseline.

9. It is normal for kids to feel upset, sad, confused or afraid after something bad happens; let your child know it’s OK to have these feelings and that they pass. If kids can’t get back to baseline or show difficulty adjusting to their routine and normal life, seek professional help.

10. Again, take care of yourselves, parents — your children need you to!

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Dr. Kate Roberts is a psychologist and parent coach; her focus is helping parents help their children. She welcomes questions at www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Kate-Roberts/470742712988070 or kate@katerobertsandassociates.com. Follow her on Twitter @DrKateParenting.

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