Helping a child or young person

Children and young people often need special assistance to cope with trauma and difficult times.

They look to adults for help.The information below can assist you in providing that help.

It's important to also take care of yourself so you can care for those who depend on you. Visit the Wellbeing & Mental Health page for additional resources.

Coping with a trauma or tragic event

  • Take time off from TV and social media, which can reinforce the trauma.
  • Show you are concerned, but also feel safe now. If you feel safe, children are likely to feel safe too.
  • Don't tell children lots of details about the event. Answer any questions they ask, but keep it simple and factual.
  • Express confidence in services such as the police and their ability to respond and help the community.
  • Don't hesitate to offer children extra pampering, comfort, cuddles, and support. If they are responding particularly badly, take them to a safe place away from where the event occurred, if possible.
  • It's okay to ask for help! Start with family/whānau, friends, or your GP, or call or text 1737 to talk to a trained counsellor.

References: Ian Lambie, clinical psychologist (via nzherald.co.nz) and Nathan Wallis, neuroscience educator and child development expert (via facebook.com/nathanwallisxfactoreducation/)

Support after the Christchurch mosque attacks

Supporting your kids after a traumatic event
  • Advice for helping children deal with trauma and grief, from the Ministry of Health
  • Available as a Word or PDF document in a variety of languages, including Arabic, Farsi, and NZ sign language
Talking about traumatic events
  • Simple tips for parents and caregivers from Oranga Tamariki
How to talk to your kids about: Trauma
  • Specific advice for helping children cope after catastrophic events like the mosque shootings
  • Information about how children of different ages are likely to react to trauma
  • From The Parenting Place
Supporting yourself and others after the Christchurch terror attack
Tips for parents and educators: Supporting children and young people
  • Following the attacks and subsequent school lockdowns on 15 March 2019, the Ministry of Education provided tips and guidance for helping children and young people talk about and deal with what happened.
Advice regarding children and young people who have seen the Christchurch events video or manifesto
Supporting children and adolescents in the aftermath of a shooting
  • Booklet for teachers and parents wanting to help children following the events of 15 March 2019
  • Authored by Dr Kathleen Liberty from the University of Canterbury's College of Education, Health and Human Development
Traumatic events, the media, and your child
  • When traumatic events occur, we need to be mindful of the impact that constant exposure to media (e.g. TV, radio, social media) can have on children and young people.
  • This resource from Emerging Minds provides advice on how to help kids who are afraid of and upset by what they see and hear.
Supporting kids after earthquakes and scary events
  • Tips for helping kids deal with the scary things that sometimes happen
  • Includes a link to the Worry Bug website, which provides resources for helping children with mild-to-moderate anxiety
  • From All Right?

Wellbeing & mental health

Youthline
How to help kids manage worries
  • PDF resource with advice on how to support children dealing with daily demands and worries they may face
  • Practical tips on how to help manage worries, build self-esteem, and validate their feelings
  • From All Right?
Mental Wealth Project
  • Mental health literacy programme specifically for young people, from Le Va
  • Information about dealing with anxiety, depression, and grief
Emotional and mental wellbeing
  • Anxiety is a common emotion that children and young people deal with. KidsHealth provides resources to help children deal with anxiety and other challenging feelings.
Wellbeing at home and school
  • Tools and resources for parents and caregivers to support a child's wellbeing
  • From the Ministry of Education
Aunty Dee
  • Wellbeing resources for young Pasifika people
Mana Ake – Stronger for Tomorrow
  • Supports children aged 5–12 across Canterbury
  • Kaimahi (workers) work with schools to support teachers, families, and whānau when children experience ongoing issues that impact their wellbeing, such as anxiety, social isolation, parental separation, and grief and loss.
  • Parents/caregivers can talk to their child's teacher or a school staff member to check if Mana Ake can provide the right service for their needs. If a child is not in school, is home-schooled, or attends Te Kura, contact manaakefeedback@cdhb.health.nz.

Grief & loss

See Grief & Loss for specific information about how to help children and young people.

Parenting resources

Parenting courses
  • Offered by a variety of community groups
Parenting resources
  • Provided by Youthline and designed specifically for parents