How First Responders Can Help Children Cope with Trauma
In previous blogs, we’ve mentioned the challenges that first responders deal with in terms of trauma. But what happens when firefighters, police officers, or other personnel become the victim of critical incidents? After all, many of these professionals have spouses and children. This particular blog post will detail how to help children cope with traumatic situations.
Karen Solomon of Grieving Behind the Badge notes in a recent piece that every critical incident needs communication, understanding, research, and education (CURE). That said, she mentions that adults and children have a different set of needs. Read on to see how to help a child in this regard.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but many children of first responders don’t understand what their mom or dad does for a living. Solomon recommends that this conversation should start at an early age and be appropriate for the child’s emotional and intellectual maturity level. This part is definitely a balancing act, as you don’t want to scare your child. Try telling them that there are bad people in the world and that when good people try to help them, they sometimes get hurt. Be sure to talk with them regularly and adjust the conversation as necessary once the child gets older.
If tragedy strikes, allow your child to talk about how they’re feeling. It’s important to realize that they won’t experience the same emotions as you. As with all circumstances where grief is involved, do your best to avoid projecting your feelings on to them and that you validate theirs. Your child will go through a variety of emotions including anger, sadness, confusion, and grief. It’s always good to let them know that what they’re feeling is ok and that you’re going through the same thing. Keep in mind that if a child doesn’t feel understood or validated following the sudden death of their parent, they may engage in destructive behavior. That’s why including them and ensuring that they aren’t neglected is such an essential part of the process.
There are so many resources available to those dealing with a critical incident, as well as a good number ones specifically created for families of first responders. As Solomon explains, “you can’t plan for an incident, you don’t know if or when it will happen or, what type of incident you will be involved in.” It can quickly turn into a task that you avoid, but keep in mind that the more resources and plans you put into place ahead of time, the easier it will be in the future. Consider getting the names of local support groups, therapists, hospitals, and counselors. Don’t forget to have something mapped out for your child, either. For example, you may want to designate a friend or family member who can take them to school and other activities for a certain amount of time.
We often tend to associate post traumatic stress injury (PTSI) with adults. However, children can be very much affected by it as well. That’s why it’s important to do a bit of homework on your own. Try learning what others have gone through and how they managed to move forward. There are plenty of resources available so that you can learn what has and hasn’t worked for other families. Overall, a critical incident may be the last thing on your mind. But you owe it to yourself and your child to be as prepared as possible should something happen.
How My Responders Gear Prepares First Responders
At My Responder Gear, we understand how difficult it can be for children of first responders to lose a parent unexpectedly. Our products may not be able to prevent critical incidents, but that doesn’t stop us from striving to prepare first responders for whatever adverse environment they may have to deal with. Each of our first responder gear products have modular elements, allowing them to be customizable. That means that as your first responder equipment changes, so too does your bag.
Our team believes that your gear should never be in question. My Responder Gear consistently meets the needs of first responders, providing a lasting solution. We are committed to continually improving our designs based on customer feedback and the latest technological advances of products.