Coping with Crisis: A Guide for Youth Leaders

Coping with Crisis: A Guide for Youth Leaders

In light of this weekend’s events in Orlando, FL and a post made by a friend about sharing a candle with her young son at a vigil last night, I wanted to take a moment for #collaborationmonday to gather collaboration from you, and to provide a few resources.

In the comments, please share your responses to one or more of the following questions:

  • Have you ever had to explain a national emergency, local crisis, or other painful news with children who were in your charge (but not yours)?  How did you approach the situation?
  • Have you ever had to work with children while experiencing a dramatic, dangerous, or frightening event?  Are you able to reflect on it for us?
  • What sorts of questions have children asked you about coping with difficult situations?
  • How have you noticed stress manifest in children?


If you have no idea what to do in a new, terrifying situation, you are not alone.  However, as children’s programming professionals, we should always think about ways to deal with crises before they arise.  I have listed below some really great resources and encourage you to compile your own in the comments.  I will compile the resources into a .pdf for Thursday so that you can keep it with you on your mobile device, use it for training purposes, or post it in your office or program space.

PBS (recommended for ages 2 to 11)

Sesame Street has been one of my favorite resources since Big Bird and Snuffy taught me to read.  Thanks to some excellent collaboration, they have been able to develop videos, printables, and guides for parents, teachers, and other childcare professionals to help children cope with difficult issues.  You Can Ask is a resource that helps adults understand what questions to ask when a child’s emotions become overwhelming.  The videos are also good ways to work with children up to about age 8 who get nervous about things happening to them–the reminder is both for the adults and for the kids: you can ask!  Little Children, Big Challenges is an amazing resource for helping children understand that sometimes the world is out of their control, and it is okay to be upset and to find people they trust to help them feel more secure.  This printable Community Provider Guide is full of helpful activities and advice that is specifically for those who are outside the family circle, but still in contact with effected children.

This Arthur printable is also from PBS, but is a simple, one-page guide that can be used in training, or before addressing a child who seems to be experiencing anxiety or stress related to a tragedy.

And, of course, Mr. Rogers’ Helping Children with Scary News.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Helping Youth After Community Trauma: Tips for Educators is a really great handout for training purposes, especially for those working with older children.  It is geared toward a school environment, so some of these tips may not apply to you.  It is well worth dealing with the issues in some way until we can get a crowd-sourced document up and running here for professionals working outside of the home/school arena.

Helping Teens and Helping Children with Traumatic Grief are both useful for anyone who comes into contact with youth whose family members are affected by a tragedy.  As children’s programming professionals, we do not always receive the same kinds of responses that teachers and family members do, so it is important to pay close attention and know what might indicate a child’s need for your support.

LGBTQ Issues and Child Trauma is a guide for the video Safe Spaces Safe Places with youth who are a part of the LGBTQ community.  The events in Orlando could be particularly terrifying for LGBTQ youth whose families are not part of the LGBTQ community or who are cut off from support for their identity.

Your Local Library

Yes, librarians always get those impossible questions from patrons because everything always says “to learn more, ask your local librarian!”.  But because this is a resource for different types of professionals, I want youth librarians to be able to answer us when we come up to them with questions.

I now turn it over to you, readers.  What are your stories, resources, and advice?

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