How to help children emotionally deal with Manchester terror attack

In the wake of the recent terror attack in Manchester, a leading child psychiatrist with Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust is advising parents on how to emotionally support their children to deal with the shock.

Dr Bernadka Dubicka.
Dr Bernadka Dubicka.

Dr Bernadka Dubicka, a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with the Trust and also Chair of the Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “It is normal to feel upset after the recent tragic attack. Such terrible events instil fear and sadness within all of us. We would not advise hiding your child from what may be on the news or social media. They will inevitably learn about it from their friends, so it's best to be honest with them about what has happened.

"While taking into consideration the age and sensitivity of your child, let them lead the conversation. Respond to their questions or concerns, and help them to understand that although what has happened is awful, these events are extremely rare.

"Do not try to force conversations with your child about this, but be there for them should they wish to talk. Most children and young people will not show any long-term effects from these events. However, a small proportion, particularly those who have been more directly affected, may show symptoms of stress and trauma. For example, they may have problems sleeping, concentrating or may be more anxious. If parents are worried about persistent signs of stress and trauma in their children, they should contact their GP.”

Health professionals from Lancashire Care also understand that people will be directly or indirectly affected by the attack and that this can lead to very normal and understandably distressing effects of trauma. Information is available about what people can expect in the days and weeks after a traumatic event and where to get additional help if these experiences persist for several months. The Lancashire Traumatic Stress Service provides further advice and information which can be found at this web address