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Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2001

Help youths of all ages cope with stress

November 29, 2001

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For parents of elementary school students:

Set limits on scary play or talk related to recent events.

Emphasize their safety. Tell them, for example, that the president and others are working to make the country safe.

Expect regressive behavior, such as whining or bed-wetting.

Limit the amount of time that they spend watching news or other programs that deal with recent traumatic events.

For parents of middle school students:

Encourage them to talk about confusing feelings, worries, daydreams and any inability to concentrate. Reassure them that these are normal reactions after a scary event.

Do activities that show how one person can make a difference in others' lives. These can include sending cards to people affected by the tragedy or participating in projects to raise money for those in need.

Monitor children who are withdrawn or isolated and those who are clearly angry or depressed. Consider seeking help from a mental health professional.

Encourage them to express their thoughts in writing, such as keeping a journal, or in illustrations.

For parents of high school students:

Set limits on scary talk, including threats of retribution. Discuss the emotions behind it.

Encourage teen-agers to talk about their feelings. Take advantage of the increased opportunities for learning and discussion of world events.

Reassure them that uncomfortable feelings will be easier to handle with time.

Monitor teen-agers who are clearly depressed or are withdrawn or isolated from others. Because they are at higher risk of mental health problems than younger children, seek professional help if the behavior continues.

Allow them to spend more time with close, supportive friends.

Encourage them to write their thoughts and feelings in a journal or to illustrate them.

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