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Supporting children through traumatic events

5 June 2017

A young girl lying on her mother's lap

The recent terror attacks in London and Manchester have affected thousands of people, and sadly many of those are children.

Talking to children about events like this can be difficult, but there are things you can do to make the conversation easier and help a child cope with the trauma.

Here’s some advice on how to help children deal with traumatic events like a terror attack:

  • Make sure you have a child’s permission before you start a conversation about the incident. Invite them more than once to talk about the event but don’t force them.
  • Remember all children will deal with trauma differently. Some may want to talk about what has happened, while others may want to explore this through drawing or play. Look for ways together for them to express their feelings that are most comfortable for them.
  • Encourage children to talk about how they are feeling. It may help to name their feelings for them — for instance, rather than asking the child how they feel, you could say: ‘I can see that you would have been afraid, is that true?’
  • While revisiting the event might be difficult, correct information based on the facts is important. You can reconstruct the facts together with the child, and this can be done through talking, playing and drawing.
  • During the conversation, make room for more cheerful chat, rather than only focusing on the traumatic incident itself. It’s good to also talk about school, home, friends and hobbies.
  • Bear in mind a child’s reaction and tempo and give them enough room, both literally and figuratively.
  • Help them find support within their own environment, for instance family members, teachers and friends.

Victim Support is here to help, no matter when or where an incident took place. We can offer you free and confidential practical and emotional help.

If you’d like support, call our Supportline on 08 08 16 89 111 or request support through our secure online form. We're here for anyone, at any time. 

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