Skip to main content

'Access those natural supports': How parents can talk to their kids about traumatic stories

With frightening situations happening all around us, it’s important for parents and caregivers to find a way to talk to their kids about what’s going on in the world and help them through it.

One example of a scary situation happened this week in Winnipeg when a group of kids fell from a collapsed walkway during a field trip at Fort Gibraltar.

Clinical psychologist Jo Ann Unger said different kids will have different reactions to hearing about this incident.

“For some kids it’s going to be a bit scary. You know, if they’ve been there before or if they have their own field trips and things coming up that they can identify with the kids. That might be hard for them to hear,” she said in an interview on Friday.

“They might have empathy for the other children or you know, for some kids, they’ll just roll with it.”

For kids who have witnessed frightening incidents, Unger said there’s a natural reaction that people go through in these situations that may involve difficulty sleeping, irritability and feeling upset. She said parents should be there to comfort their children, show them empathy and give them an opportunity to talk.

“Really access those natural supports because when any of us, including children, experience an event like that, we all have these reactions, which are really normal,” she said, adding that if kids are experiencing difficulties for an extended period then it might be time to seek out extra supports.

It’s also important for parents and caregivers to check with their kids to see what they’ve been hearing about, because children have a number of sources for information including their friends, social media and the news. Checking in with them also gives parents and caregivers a chance to provide reassurance and correct any misconceptions.

“It’s really important to check in and see how they’re doing on a regular basis,” Unger said.

“Just listen to their thoughts and feelings about the situation and providing that empathy.”

Unger added parents should also tell their kids about the people who are helping in these situations, and let them know how the issues resolved.

- With files from CTV’s Rachel Lagace. Top Stories


1940-2023 Michael Gambon, who played Dumbledore, dies aged 82

British-Irish actor Michael Gambon, best known to global audiences for playing the wise professor Albus Dumbledore in the 'Harry Potter' movie franchise and whose career was launched by his mentor Laurence Olivier, died aged 82 on Thursday.

Stay Connected