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Talking about traumatic events

Children and teenagers may understandably be upset by events in Manchester and London. Our Parent Services Manger, Jo, offers some advice on talking about traumatic events.

Children and teenagers may understandably be upset by the events in Manchester and London and by what they’re seeing on the news, especially as young people have been directly affected at the concert.

As a parent, it’s good to talk to them honestly but calmly about what’s happened, and about how they’re feeling if they want to, so that they don’t feel like they’re on their own.


Children look to the adults in their life for comfort when they are distressed. We often see this in the context of personal safety or stranger danger but it equally applies here now. Children will look to their parents and carers for comfort and reassurance.


Responding to questions and concerns

It's up to parents to gauge their child's level of understanding - and also interest - to decide what level of detail they should go in when explaining what is going on. The key things should be about not causing undue alarm but responding to questions and concerns so that anxieties don't build up and become a real problem for a child.
You don't necessarily need to sit your child down to talk about terrorism but you can ask them what they think about what happened in Manchester and London, if their friends are talking about it and what they are saying, and if they have any questions.

Have a conversation

They will look to their parents and teachers to take the lead in how to view these events. It is better to have a gentle conversation than to leave them fretting and imagining things that could happen to them. And reassure them that they can always talk to you.

Give them time

If your child was directly affected, or knows someone who was, they might experience trauma. It’s possible that they will become anxious, afraid, angry, unable to concentrate or unable to stop thinking about what happened. All of these are normal reactions, and it will take time for them to begin to make sense of their experiences.
The best thing to do is to be there for them, to listen if they want to talk, to give them time, and to offer them any practical help they need.

If your child seems particularly upset, and the signs of stress last a long time, talk to your GP or call the YoungMinds parents helpline.

Find Help

Our Parents Survival Guide provides practical advice on how best to support your child and yourself through difficult times.

If you're a young person looking for someone to talk to there are lots of ways to find help. Visit our Need to Talk page for useful contact information. 

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