For most children, these reactions are temporary and respond very positively to parental interest, reassurance, and the opportunity to discuss thoughts and feelings. Parents should be mindful that children who are already struggling with depression or social alienation (particularly teenagers) may be more heavily affected. Their parents might want to talk to a mental heath professional about their child's needs.
Q: How should a parent respond if a child doesn't want her to go to work or take a plane?
A: In the short term, parents may decide to curtail travel or work because of the mental health needs of their children. If a child's fear persists, parents should consider talking to a professional.
Q: How should a parent answer a child's questions -- about, for example, how this could have happened or what will happen next -- when they don't know the answers themselves?
A: That depends on the age of the child, of course. It's perfectly okay for a parent to tell a child that we don't understand some things at this moment, but we will later. Keep reassuring your child that you are there and that everything will be all right in your family.
Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from Child magazine 2001.