Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event

A Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

SMA11-DISASTER-09 Disasters and traumatic events  are scary—for children and for adults. Children and youth can face emotional strains after a traumatic event such as a car crash or violence. Disasters also may leave them with long-lasting harmful effects.

When children experience a trauma, watch it on TV, or overhear others discussing it, they can feel scared, confused, or anxious. Young people react to trauma differently than adults. Some may react right away; others may show signs that they are having a difficult time much later. As such, adults do not always know when a child needs help coping. Adult support and reassurance is the key to helping children through a traumatic time.

Click HERE for a  SAMHSA fact sheet with helpful resources for parents, caregivers, and teachers to learn some common reactions, respond in a helpful way, and know when to seek support.


U.S., Department of Health and Human Services Administration, Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4732, (Revision of KEN-01-0091/KEN-01-0093; Revised 04/2007; Revised 11/2012)