When tragedies occur, even if we are not directly affected, there is a systemic impact that can affect anyone. Many of our members have shared that speaking with their clients in recent days, they have found they are struggling with processing Sunday’s shooting at Pulse nightclub or explaining the news of recent weeks to their children. The resources below have been created by member MFTs or compiled by AAMFT to help support this process.
Tips for Parenting During Times of Crisis
- Model calm and control. Reassure children that they are safe and so are the other important adults in their lives.
- Make time to talk with your children about crisis events. Take some time and determine what you wish to say. This is especially true since new information will unfold each day. Provide brief, accurate, and age appropriate information. Don’t dwell on the scale or scope of the tragedy, particularly with young children.
- Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate. Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their lives will not change. Upper elementary school children will be more vocal in asking questions about their safety and what is being done. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy.
- Understand what your child is asking. Difficult questions that children ask may be spurred by curiosity or feelings. Rather than plunging into an immediate answer, learn what motivates the question. Ask, “What made you think of that?” or “What ideas do you have?” Once the meaning of a question is known, it is easier to answer effectively. feelings.
- There may be questions we cannot answer. Rather than invent a response, it is more helpful to say “I don’t know,” or “I’ll try to find out.”
- Acknowledge, validate, and accept your child’s feelings. He or she may be feeling confused, frightened, or even excited. Listen calmly and reassuringly as they express their thoughts and feelings.
- Limit the amount of your child’s television viewing of these events. If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the set off. Young children should not be allowed to watch tv coverage of the event, as they are too young to process what they are seeing and hearing.
- Maintain a “normal” routine. To the extent possible stick to your family’s normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc. Children feel secure when routines are calmly followed.
- Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed without the television or news radio on. These activities are calming, foster a sense of closeness and security, and reinforce a sense of normalcy.
Many MFTs in the Orlando area are volunteering free services to those in the community who are struggling. To find a therapist, you can utilize our directory here: Find a Therapist. Additionally, these services are available:
- Free services in the Orlando area including counseling for the LGBTQ and Latinx community
- The Center, serving the LGBTQ community, is open and offering grief counseling in English and Spanish. It is located at 945 N. Mills Ave. in Orlando. You also can call its hotline at 407-228-1446 or text your zip code to 898-211 to connect
- The Heart of Florida United Way 24-7 crisis line: 2-1-1
- Victim Service Center of Central Florida hotline: 407-497-6701
- UCF students can receive free counseling on campus at Counseling and Psychological Services from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Contact the office at 407-823-2811.
Past Family Therapy Magazine articles of interest: