Do's and don'ts of helping children

2008-05-21 03:17:28 GMT       2008-05-21 11:17:28 (Beijing Time)        China Daily      

According to experts sent by the All-China Women's Federation to help children in quake-affected areas, extra care is needed to help these children. How they are handled today can seriously impact their ability to cope with their traumatic experiences in the future.

10 don'ts:

1. Don't lie. If the child's parents have died, don't lie to them.

2. Don't give false hope by promising things that cannot be fulfilled.

3. Don't force the child to recall the quake, or talk about it. Don't say things such as, "Just tell me."

4. Don't intervene with the child's emotions by saying things such as, "Don't cry", "Be brave", or "Just cry" as kids have their own ways of expressing their feelings.

5. Don't tell the child he or she is poor and needs sympathy.

6. Don't try to replace their parents by saying, "It doesn't matter. We all love you."

7. Don't over compensate. This may cause the child to become overly dependent.

8. Don't think of yourself as a savior, or the only person who can help the child. Help them find their own way to heal.

9. Don't make them feel guilty. Avoid saying "You are already very lucky", or "Your situation is much better than others'".

10. Don't pry. Our curiosity could cause further emotional injury to the children.

5 do's:

1. If possible, give them a lot of body contacts. But if the children refuse, don't insist on doing so.

2. Build trust. Start forming this bond with daily greetings and then work up to conversation.

3. Once the trust is built, give the child small gifts such as chocolates, pencils and paper to let them know they have someone who cares about them.

4. If time permits, give the child alternative ways to express his or her feelings such as drawing or storytelling.

5. Tell them, "I'm always here for you when you need my help". You may provide a unified phone number or address (Visitors who come and go can leave children with a sense of abandonment).

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