Shortly after school starts, we will experience one year since the traumatic events of September 11, 2001. The entire country will pause and reflect on that day, about the lives lost and the unselfish acts of heroism so many Americans displayed. Although the intensity of memories has eased over time, some adults and children may re experience many of the same thoughts and feelings that they felt a year ago. The New Jersey Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth Program has prepared the following information to help you recognize and deal with the possible normal reactions in your children:

  • No reaction – not everyone will react at the one year mark
  • Isolation, sadness or anger
  • Aggression or oppositional behavior
  • Sleep difficulties, stomach upset, racing heart, muscle tension
  • Fear, worry, helplessness, sadness
  • Inability to focus and concentrate
  • Tendency to cling to a parent or revert to earlier behaviors
  • Loss of meaning in life and/or feelings of despair in older children

Adults need to be tolerant of children’s behavior and explain that it is OK to be upset or disturbed. If you think that your child’s reaction is more extreme or persistent, an evaluation by a professional can be considered. Most children may be helped during this time by extra parental support and reassurance.

Some of the following suggestions may be helpful:

  • Limit your child’s exposure to media reports especially graphic images.
  • Maintain normal daily routines to provide a sense of safety and security.
  • Check with your child’s school regarding plans for commemorating September 11 and voice any concerns that you may have.
  • Attend commemorations that focus on healing and hope for the future (Consider the event, a child’s age and their desire to attend).
  • Talk to your child and listen for underlying feelings of fear and helplessness.
  • Assure them that the adults in their lives are doing everything in their power to make sure their homes and schools are safe.
  • Focus on the good that has emerged from this very tragic event, i.e. the unselfish way in which many people responded to help others. This will reassure your child about the goodness that still exists in the world.

Be mindful of your own reactions. You also have been affected. Discuss your feelings and concerns with other supportive adults. It is important to limit your media exposure. Practice good physical care including: Eat right, get enough rest, exercise and practice relaxation techniques. Your sense of calm will be transmitted to your child.

For more information call Project Phoenix 1-877-294-4357.