Trauma Resources for Families

Traumatic and tragic events in the news can deeply affect the children and families the children’s museum field serves. As community resources and advocates for children, children’s museums can help build socioemotional supports for children and those who love and care for them.

In the words of Kansas Children’s Discovery Center President and CEO Dené Mosier, “It is our duty as a community to make sure our children are given a peaceful environment in which to heal and connect to community resources.”

On this page, you will find links to resources for caregivers, families, and communities from children’s museum and non-museum sources.

Resources from Children’s Museums

Talking With Children About Tragic EventsBoston Children’s Museum (MA)
“Some activities in the Boston Children’s Museum activity library are specifically aimed at promoting healthy coping mechanisms and self-expression during stressful times, which may be relevant for your family right now.”

Coping with Traumatic EventsChildren’s Creativity Museum (San Francisco, CA)
“Parents and caregivers play an important role in helping children recover from the exposure of traumatic events. For a young person, coping with death and loss can be difficult, so we’ve assembled some trusted resources for how to talk with your child(ren) and family.”

Tips for Helping Children Cope with TragedyChildren’s Discovery Museum of San Jose (CA)
“No matter what age or developmental stage the child is in, you can start by asking your child what they’ve already heard. Most children will have heard something, no matter how old they are. After you ask them what they’ve heard, ask what questions they have.”

Resources for Parents During News of Tragic Events – The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (IN)
“We believe in the power of children to help change the world. The Children’s Museum is a place where all children and families can learn from one another—regardless of our differences. The core of our mission at The Children’s Museum is to help transform the lives of children and families. We hope these resources can be a starting point. Let’s partner with our children and help to make the world a better place.”

Community ResourcesThe Doseum (San Antonio, TX)
“Navigating tough topics with our children can be difficult—especially after a tragic event.  Your support and care can go a long way in creating a positive impact in their lives as well as those around you. Our commitment is to continuously seek and share valuable resources to educate and assist the Community during these trying times.”

Helping Children Cope: Talking with Kids About Violence and Tragedy in the NewsMinnesota Children’s Museum (St. Paul)
“When violent acts dominate the news, it can be hard to know how to talk to kids about such tragedies….  Adults can help kids put traumatic events into perspective in an age-appropriate way so that kids can understand and process the messages they are hearing. Having these conversations also helps establish a sense of safety while allowing children to work through emotions they are feeling.”

Resources and Letter from the Executive Director National Children’s Museum (Washington, DC)
“At National Children’s Museum, our mission is to inspire children to care about and change the world. We truly believe that children can affect lasting change. Throughout history, children have been at the forefront of progress, and they are valued citizens who have inspired action. We encourage you to empower the young learners in your life to make their voices heard.”

Additional Resources

The following resources are specific to helping caregivers and families deal with children’s trauma after a disaster, emergency, or external (not in the family or household) violent incidents:

Health & Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline: Anyone can call or text the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 to get immediate help and support for any distress that you or someone you care about may be feeling related to any disaster. The helpline is free, confidential, available 24/7/365, and answered by trained counselors.
• The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: Understanding and Responding to Children in Disaster: Engage – Calm – Distract
• National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN): School Shooting Resources
• Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress: Restoring Safety and Coping with Stress
• Child Care Aware: Helping Children Cope with Traumatic Events
• Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center: Supporting Recovery After Trauma
• Save the Children: 10 Tips for Helping Children Cope with Disaster
• Federal Emergency Management Agency: Helping Children Cope with Disaster and SAMHSA’s Children and Disasters page

National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Funded through Center for Mental Health Services/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), the National Child Traumatic Stress Network has online trainings and many resources that can be searched by trauma type, language, audience, etc.

ASPR TRACIE: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response’s (ASPR) Technical Resources, Assistance Center and Information Exchange (TRACIE)
ASPR TRACIE has the Topic Collection: Pediatric/Children, which has a section for Mental and Behavioral Health.

ASPR TRACIE resources for families:
Skills for Psychological Recovery: Field Operations Guide: This has resources including a worksheet that can be used with children and youth
Families Disaster and Trauma Resource Center: Resources for families to use for children and youth following a disaster event
Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event: Resources for families to use for children and teens following a disaster event

ASPR TRACIE resources for professionals:
Developing Cultural Competence in Disaster Mental Health Programs: Slightly different from children and youth, but with a focus on equity

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Helping Youth After a Community Trauma: Tips for Educators (En Español)
Talking to Children: When Scary Things Happen  (En Español)
Helping School-Age Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers (En Español)
Helping Teens with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers (En Español)
Helping Young Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers (En Español)
After a Crisis: Helping Young Children Heal
Once I Was Very Very Scared – children’s book for young children

National Mass Violence and Victimization Resource Center

Transcend (mobile app to assist with recovery after mass violence)
Rebuild your Community: Resources for Community Leaders
• Timeline of Activities to Promote Mental Health Recovery

Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University

Grief Leadership: Leadership in the Wake of Tragedy
Leadership Communication: Anticipating and Responding to Stressful Events
• Coping with Stress Following a Mass Shooting

PBS KidsHelping Children with Tragic Events in the News

Sesame Street in Communities
It’s hard to know how to help young children understand and cope with the effects of violence, but there are ways to help them feel safer, more secure, and build hope for a more peaceful, kinder future.

More topics

A Mighty Girl booklists

•  When You Worry Too Much: 25 Books to Help Kids Overcome Anxiety, Worry, and Fear
•  Understanding The Way I Feel: 50 Mighty Girl Books About Managing Emotions

American Academy of Pediatrics:  Talking With Children About Tragedies & Other News Events

National Association of School Psychologists 

•  Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers 
•  Natural Disaster Resources
•  More resources for coping with crises and tragic events

National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement (