Dealing with Shootings and Terrorism Stress

APA Provides Resources for Coping with Shootings and Terrorism Anxiety

 Advises limiting exposure, particularly for children

WASHINGTON, DC – Taking a break from the news and limiting how much news children watch are among the recommendations for coping with stress and anxiety related to the recent police and civilian shootings, as well as terrorism attacks, according to resources posted on the American Psychological Association’s website.Shattered window

“As a nation, we are trying to wrap our minds around what is taking place all around us. Protests related to police injustice, protests about gun violence, protests about tolerance, vigils for those killed in all of these events are happening in many communities across America,” writes APA member Robin Gurwitch, PhD, in a blog post entitled “How to Talk to Our Kids about the Tragic Shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas.” “How do we begin to explain all of this to our children when we, as adults, are having our own difficulties with what is occurring?”

Gurwitch, who has studied the impact of terrorism and disasters on children since the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, recommends including children in important discussions regarding what is happening in the U.S. She urges families to talk frankly about diversity, the reality of racism and discrimination, and the importance of respect, tolerance, unity and justice.

Another APA resource, entitled “Building resilience to Manage Indirect Exposure to Terrorism,” recommends taking a break from watching the news. “Watching endless news coverage of the attack can make your stress even greater,” it says. “Try to be particularly sensitive to your children’s exposure, and be prepared to answer questions they may have about how or why this traumatic even occurred.”

Other strategies for building resilience in the face of terrorism include staying connected to family members and friends, keeping things in perspective and developing your own emergency plan.

“Building your resilience can be an important part of preparing for the unexpected,” the resource continues. “It is a psychological tool that can help us deal with anxiety and fear.”

For those who feel too overwhelmed to use the tips provided, APA suggests consulting a psychologist or other mental health professional.

“Turning to someone for guidance may help you strengthen your resilience and persevere through difficult times,” it says.

Related Resources:

•    Redefining Race Relations: It Begins at Home
•    How to Talk to Your Kids about Racism in a Post-Trayvon World
•    Talking to Kids About Discrimination
•    Talking to Kids When They Need Help
•    How to Talk to Children about Difficult News and Tragedies
•    7 Ways to Talk to Children and Youth about the Shootings in Orlando
•    Talking to Children About the Shooting
•    Helping Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting
•    How Much News Coverage is OK for Children?