In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many East Coast families are struggling with how to help adolescents through the resulting devastation. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has recently released a new tool parents and educators can use to help children affected by traumatic events like Hurricane Sandy.
“Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event” is available as a free .PDF download at SAMHSA’s web store. The four page guide offers suggestions based on four different age categories - infants and toddlers (ages 0-2), young children (ages 3-5), children (ages 6-10) and adolescents (ages 11-19).
“Young people react very differently to trauma than adults,” the guide says. “When children experience a trauma, watch it on TV, or overhear others discussing it, they can feel scared, confused or anxious.”
The tip sheet lists several common responses and reactions to traumatic events based on age categories, as well as general advice on talking to young people about their recent experiences. The publication also lists several resources parents and educators can go to for young people that require greater or more specialized treatment or care following traumatic experiences.
“Pay attention and be a good listener,” the tip sheet advises. “Most children want to talk about a trauma so let them.”