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Community Crisis

A community crisis can mean different things.  It might be an accident, homicide, or suicide that impacts a community, or a larger scale event like a shooting or terrorist attack.  Certainly, the current pandemic qualifies as a community crisis.  While the scale may be larger, and the grief shared and more widespread, as individuals we still grieve in our own ways.

For those guiding children and young adults through community crisis, some things to keep in mind:

  • Let them hear the truth from you.

    • While the instinct is often to shield children from crisis, hearing directly from you, their trusted adult, is better than hearing rumors or random news reports.  Build their trust by being brave enough to bring it up first.

  • Ask questions and listen to their fears and worries.

    • There is no question too big or too small when it comes to processing a community crisis.  Your child’s concerns may be different than yours, so it’s important to not assume and instead to ask questions.

  • Don’t force your child to talk.

    • They may not be affected by what is going on, or it may be more beneficial for them to process in other ways. Open the door for conversation, but then leave it and revisit in the days to come if they don’t want to engage.  Since we know kids process through play, suggest a walk or something physical to do together. This might get the conversation started naturally.

  • Model your own positive methods of reflection, communication and coping

    • It might be allowing them to overhear a conversation with a friend about how you are feeling or sharing with them directly how you are coping.

    • Kids learn by watching and will likely model your behaviors.  If you’re sharing how you are doing openly, chances are they will as well

More than anything, in times of crisis children and young adults need love and reassurance that they will be helped through this time.  It doesn’t mean that nothing bad will happen, just that they will have support to cope with it. As difficult as these moments in life are, they do build resiliency and, handled in an open way, the foundation of coping with life’s challenges that may come down the road.