Talking to teens - young girl

Accessing resources that can help during critical times.

Talking to teens about traumatic events

Boys & Girls Clubs are committed to providing safe environments and inclusive experiences so that all kids and teens can reach their full potential. Physical and mental health are critical for young people to feel well and be successful, and Boys & Girls Clubs’ caring mentors and life-enhancing programming use a “whole child” approach that recognizes the individual lived experiences of youth. Clubs have also partnered with organizations like the Crisis Text Line and Mental Health First Aid to ensure kids and families have access to resources that can help them during critical times.

When a tragedy does strike, it is important to talk with young people who have been directly or indirectly impacted. Even if they are not engaging with you, that does not necessarily mean that the young people in your life are not thinking about or internalizing different emotions.

Here are some ways to talk with your teen about traumatic events:

  1. Process your own emotions: Label your own emotions and use self-care strategies - teens will look to you as role models for how to cope with these incidents

  2. Initiate dialogue: Show teens that you understand what is going on and are here to support them by bringing up difficult topics

  3. Address the incident directly: To get the dialogue started, ask teens what they have heard and what they know about the incident

  4. Show willingness to answer questions: Teens will feel more comfortable discussing the incident if they know you are willing to answer questions and listen to their concerns

  5. Validate & listen to feelings: Ask teens to share their feelings about the incident, and respond with empathy as validation that you are listening

  6. Continue to check in: Check back in regularly during the coming weeks to see how teens are coping with and processing the incident

  7. Look for solutions: Teens are action-oriented - ask, "What can we do to create positive change in our Club, school, or community?" and support them in starting a meaningful project or campaign

Additional Resources:

You can learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs “Be There” initiative, supported by the New York Life Foundation, here: /kids-in-need/initiatives/be-there


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This article was previously posted on 7/30/2019.



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