Q: We lost our home in a fire last month. My husband and I know we have a long road to recovery, but we’re especially worried about our children. Will the trauma of this experience impact them long-term?
A: We’re sorry for your loss. Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster as your children deal with the aftermath. Here are some suggestions to help them heal:
- Keep them in a routine as much as possible. Create a predictable atmosphere of normalcy, perhaps by taking a daily walk or having
a regular story time.
- Encourage your children to be honest with their emotions. Don’t let them bury their pain and fear inside. Let them know it’s ok to be sad.
- Accept your children’
semotions for what they are. Whatever reaction they’re experiencing is “normal” for them. For young children, this often takes the form of acting out. For teens, it may mean becoming more withdrawn.
- Don’t avoid discussing the loss of your home, but don’t obsess about it either. Help your children explore non-verbal ways of processing the tragedy-such as through drawing, painting, or journaling.
- Provide your children with opportunities to meet other children and families who have endured similar traumas.
- Be mindful of the way you’re processing your own emotions in their presence. They’ll take a lot of cues from you. It’s okay for them to know you’re hurting, too, but be aware that your emotions can also be misread and cause a sense of panic or despair unnecessarily.
If your children are having a particularly difficult time dealing with this loss, in the form of persistent and extreme mood swings, nightmares, or bad
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