Staff at our child care center is worried about how the children in our care might be affected by the September 11 anniversary. What might alert us to children who are distressed by what they see on television or hear from parents or older children?
Children don't always have the verbal skills to identify or talk about what's bothering them. The best way to tell how children are feeling is to watch their behavior. Young children respond to distressing or frightening events in a variety of ways. Some signs of stress in young children are:
- Behavior the child had outgrown-thumb sucking, toilet accidents, bedwetting, or relying on a security object such as a blanket or stuffed animal.
- Aggressive behavior
- Withdrawn behavior
- Acting out the stressful event in play, using aggressive play themes, or drawing pictures of the stressful event
- Clinginess with parents or teachers; difficulty separating from parents
- Moodiness, fussiness, or tantrums
- Physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches; changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Resistance to routine events such as meals, nap or bedtime.
It is important to keep in mind that many preschool-age children show these behaviors from time to time. The key thing to look for is a significant increase in the above behaviors or behavior that is not typical for the particular child.
Warmline Available for Parents and Teachers Call 1-800-552-8522
If you have concerns about children you care for related to the 9-11
Anniversary or any other stressful event, please contact ParentLink at the
University of Missouri. ParentLink provides a warmline that is answered by
professionals who are willing to talk through stressful issues:
ParentLink can help parents deal with issues related to discipline, sexuality, special health needs and much more. You can reach ParentLink by calling 1-800-552-8522 (M-F, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm) or by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sandi Lillard, MSW, LCSW, ParentLink, 4-H, University of Missouri Kimberly Downs, MS, CFLE, ParentLink, 4-H, University of Missouri Kim Leon, Former Human Development & Family Studies, University of Missouri
Last update: Friday, September 14, 2007