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Psychological First Aid
Adults Working with Children and Teens

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  • Try exercising or other physical activity to relieve stress.
  • Engage in helpful, productive activities that are satisfying and useful in the situation.
  • Follow the advice you would give others.
  • Manage your own reaction when faced with emotional outbursts from others by:
  • Remaining quiet and calm.
  • Avoiding the temptation to engage in a shouting match.
  • Acknowledging the persons point of view.
  • Disengaging and respectfully walking away from the person if you are being insulted or threatened.
  • Contacting law enforcement personnel if you feel that you are in danger.

For more information about Emergency Preparedness and Psychological First Aid, refer to Leaving OMH site, Leaving OMH site, and Leaving OMH site.

When Disaster Strikes
As a parent or guardian, you set limits and teach values as you guide children and teens into adulthood. You dont expect them to face lifes challenges in the same way that you do. You want to protect them and help them learn about the world outside of your control.

Andrea Booher/FEMA Photo

This responsibility is challenging and, at times, stressful. Now think about how important your role becomes when disaster strikes your community. As a parent with your own children or as an adult caring for other children, you know how young people will look to you as the person in charge. They want to believe you are in control, know what to do, and will protect them.

So, how will you respond in those hours and days after a disaster? What can you do to comfort the children in your care?

Psychological First Aid in Situations with Children and Teens
Children and teens often react based on cues they pick up from the adults around them. Though, you cannot always predict how a child or teen will react to what he sees or experiences. Even if you are calm, confident and in control, you should anticipate that children may experience a range of reactions based on their age, family stability, physical and mental health, past traumatic experiences, and whether or not they have been separated from their parents or guardians.

No matter what the circumstances or the reactions are, it is important to provide comfort and assurance. Children and teens will need to know that they are safe and surrounded by adults who care about them.

Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a way to give emotional support and help to youth of any age, ethnic and cultural heritage, and social and economic background in the immediate aftermath of disaster.

You can use PFA to meet the basic needs of people in stressful situations, no matter what the differences are among them. PFA will provide you with basic strategies to help people cope with their pressing concerns and needs in the days and weeks after the disaster.

Reach out to those who need help and provide comfort care.

Andrea Booher/FEMA Photo

Recognize basic needs and support problem-solving.

Validate feelings and thoughts.

Provide accurate and timely information.

Andrea Booher/FEMA Photo

Connect children with support systems.

Provide education about stress responses.

Reinforce strengths and positive coping strategies.

Take care of yourself.

Andrea Booher/FEMA Photo

Project Director/Subject Matter Expert: Jack Herrmann, MSED., NCC, LMHC

Reviewer/Subject Matter Expert: Valerie Cole, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

Designer/Writer: Antonia Messineo

© University of Rochester, 2007. These materials were made possible by funding provided by the New York State Office of Mental Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, Public Health Preparedness and Response for Bioterrorism grant, Cooperative Agreement No. U90/CCU216988 administered by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and Health Research, Inc. (HRI). The content is solely the responsibility of the project director and does not necessarily represent the official views of DHHS, CDC, NYSDOH, or HRI.