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Supporting Each Other During Trauma

Te tautoko tētahi i tētahi i roto i te kohuki

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There's a lot going on in Canterbury right now  we're all feeling a wide range of emotions. It can be hard to know what to think, how to feel, and what to do. And that's all right. 

Going through a shock takes a toll on all of us and coping is not always easy. Good mental health helps us carry on, bounce back and deal with all that life throws at us.

During earthquakes and other scary or surprising events, our brains react chemically – releasing adrenaline. 

This response is our natural alarm system – our body telling us to be alert and ready for action. It's there to help us, but afterwards we can feel shaky, queasy or on-edge, and it can make it hard for us to concentrate. 

This is normal and we can help ease these affects to settle by doing some light physical activity, taking up a small chore or task and by focusing on some calm breathing for 10 seconds. It's ok to take a break from the news and social media so you can focus on other things  doing so doesn't belittle the event but it can help you to calm your nerves. It's also a great idea to connect with friends and loved ones.

Supporting our children and whānau

Parents, children will cue off you — so if you’re okay, they’ll be okay too...

  • Be mindful how much ‘worry’ you’re displaying, just be as cool as you can!
  • Keep them away from the media.
  • Answer their questions pretty matter of factly and in very ‘general’ terms. Drama it down. You don’t have to get the answers exactly right here. Ensure you talk too about the police and how they did a really good job of keeping us safe. Keep the reassurance low key too — over-reassuring can make us think we need to be worrying more than we are!
  • Let them talk about it, but don’t let it ‘take over’ - use distraction to keep their mind off it - we’ve got the board games out!
  • If your children (or you!) are a bit panicky, take those long deep breaths. In the words of our good friends at The Worry Bug: "Reassure them that the world hasn't changed, this is an unusual situation and things will go back to normal soon. When you listen you don't need to solve, you just need to listen and be empathic. Feelings usually retreat after a short while if they are listened to and acknowledged."


For parents of teens...

  • Try and keep them off or away from the social media as much as you can, but it’s okay if they need to have it on tap right now - it’s a great way for them to be checking in with friends and supporting each other.
  • Let them know there’s a lot of hype out there.
  • Say that you’re sticking with credible sources of information as they report only the things released by the police and people actually ‘in the know’. If they are really affected by this ‘hype’ tell them it’s time to put the phone down or away. Keep the reassurance low key too.
  • Stick to your normal routines as much as you can. 

You've got this!

Source: The Allright Campaign

Helpful Resources

Below are a few articles which you may find helpful when talking to your child about a traumatic event.

How to talk to Kids and Teens About World Trauma on Hey Sigmund.
Click here to read

Tips for coping with a disaster by All right? Healthy Christchurch initiative led by the Canterbury District Health Board and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.
Click here to read.

Q&A with Neuroscientist Nathan Wallis on
Click here to read.

How to talk to children about terrorism by The Conversation
Click here to read.

Who to contact

If you have any concerns regarding your child, or require any support from us, please contact any of the following:

  • Your child's Dean (Secondary School) / teacher (Preparatory School and Pre-school)
  • Head of Guidance, Tom Matthews
  • College Chaplain, Rev. Paul Morrow

You may also find some information below useful at this time:

  • Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 for support from a trained counsellor.
  • Youthline 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email or online chat.
  • Commonground resource for parents, family, whanau and friends with information, tools and support to help a young person who is struggling.
  • Skylight 0800 299 100 for support through trauma, loss and grief; 9am–5pm weekdays.