Help for kid and adult stress stress

Thursday September 13, 2001

The city has produced two informational guides on coping with stress in the aftermath of Tuesday’s violence, one deals with children’s reactions and the other with those of adults. 


Talking to children about Tuesday’s events 

Most if not all of your children will have heard about the events of Tuesday morning in New York City, Washington D.C. and the East Coast. Children will have many questions, as these events are difficult for children as well as adults to understand They also may show signs of being frightened and upset. 

You may notice the following normal reactions in your children. 

• Reluctance to be separated from you.  

• Problems going to sleep.  

• Increased fears that may not appear to be related to national events.  

• Stomachaches or headaches.  

The following may be helpful in talking to your child about the events: 

• Children need to be reassured about their immediate safety. Remind them that you and the other adults who take care of them put children’s safety first. 

• Reassure children about your own safety at work. Also address their safety at school. Younger children may not understand that these events are far away. Try to give them a sense of the distances involved. (For example, explain that it would take many days to drive to New York or Washington, D.C.)  

• Provide a simple explanation of events. Younger children in particular may not be able understand what has happened or may have an inaccurate understanding. It is helpful to ask what they were told or heard on TV.  

• Ask children what they have heard or what they think about the events. Being able to talk to adults about what is on their minds will have a comforting effect. If you cannot answer a question it is OK to say you don’t know.  

• Allow children to talk about the feelings they have and other people have about what happened.  

• Limit or eliminate children’s exposure to television and radio coverage of the news. Graphic images are upsetting and scary.  



Adults coping with critical  

incident stress 

People can take steps to help themselves, family members, and each other cope with critical incident related stress. 

• Within the first 24 to 48 hours periods of strenuous physical exercise alternated with periods of relaxation will alleviate some of the physical reactions to a stressful situation.  

• Structure your time by keeping busy.  

• Remind yourself that you are normal and having normal reactions. Don’t label yourself as “crazy,” “wacko,” “weak” or “unfit.”  

• Talk is one of the most healing medicines. Talk to people you know care about you. People do care.  

• Be aware of numbing the pain with overuse of drugs or alcohol. Don’t complicate things further with substance abuse problems.  

• Keep your life as normal as possible.  

• It is all right to spend time by yourself.  

• Help your co-workers as much as possible by sharing feelings and checking out how they’re doing. (Respect their feelings of not wanting to talk about the incident)  

• Do things that make you feel good.  

• Realize that those around you are also under stress and may not act or react in a manner you would normally expect.  

• Keep a journal. Writing during sleepless hours may help.  

• Don’t make any big life changes, buying that Ferrari or house you’ve always wanted, going to Reno to get married suddenly, etc.  

• Do make as many daily decisions as possible, which will give you the feeling of control over your life.  

• Consult a mental health professional if you need assistance.  

Contact the city’s Mobile Crisis Team at 644-8566 for additional information.