Experiencing or witnessing a crisis can be stressful and potentially cause trauma, leaving both children and adults feeling emotionally and psychologically overwhelmed. Here are some pointers that can help you talk through recent incidents in the news with your child.

What is trauma?
A traumatic life experience is one that overwhelms one’s usual coping mechanisms, potentially causing distress and affecting the ability to function in daily life. It can happen to anyone in a variety of situations, including when losing a loved one, witnessing a divorce between parents, or feeling abandoned by someone we love. It can also result from witnessing or hearing about violent crimes or natural disasters. As an individual tries to make sense of a situation, they may experience shock, denial, numbness, feelings of hopelessness, sadness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and anger.

Even when people are not directly involved in an incident, they may experience what is known as secondary trauma, including when we hear stories shared about a negative incident and are affected by them. They can spark immense fear or helplessness, because nothing can be done about them, and even create anxiety, emotional fluctuations, detachment, feelings of hopelessness, and tiredness.

As a parent/caregiver/guardian, how can you support your child? 
Create Safe Spaces
Safe Spaces are spaces where children and youth feel physically, psychologically, and emotionally safe to share their innermost thoughts and feelings. You can create a Safe Space by being attentive and listening with your ears, eyes, and heart, and by being present. Stay interested in what your child wants to talk about, maintain a positive tone, and be non-judgemental. This allows them to share their thoughts, whether through face-to-face or digital conversations, or even expressive art forms. Try to understand and empathise with them, and reassure them that they are safe. 

Let your child take the lead
As an adult, you can provide your child with facts, answer questions, if any, and regularly check in to see how they are coping. How you speak to your child about traumatic incidents gives them a sense of reassurance and safety. Assess what your child needs, and tailor your responses accordingly.

Maintain a routine
Ensure your child eats healthily, has enough sleep, and gets regular exercise. Having a regular schedule can help promote good physical and mental health. 

Reach Out for Support 
When dealing with trauma, seeking help from professionals is normal and encouraged, much like how you would see a doctor to treat a physical illness. Do reach out to someone who is well placed to help.

If you know of young people who are in need of support, do direct them to our four youth drop-in centres:

RoundBox @ Children Society (Toa Payoh)   
Tel: 6259 3735 | WhatsApp: 9859 7104
IG: https://www.instagram.com/roundboxcentre/
JYC @ Children Society (Jurong)  
WhatsApp: 9880 9850  
IG: https://www.instagram.com/jyc_at_scs/  
VOX @ Children Society (Chai Chee)  
Tel: 6443 4139 | WhatsApp: 9069 8475 
IG: https://www.instagram.com/vox.44cc/2Gather (Virtual Drop In)
Monday to Friday, 3pm – 6pmClick here to join 
Video demo on Virtual Drop In can be found here
The Fort @ Children Society (Radin Mas)  
WhatsApp: 9459 5681
IG: https://www.instagram.com/thefort.scs/   

Primary school students can contact our Tinkle Friend helpline at 1800 2744 788 or chatline at https://tinklefriend.sg.

Click here to read the story in Chinese.