Members of the Mana Ake team spoke with Star Media about the coordinated, collaborative response to the terror attack on 15 March and offered some tips for parents and teachers.
Clare Shepherd, Mana Ake Project Lead outlined the role Mana Ake had in responding to the event: “We put together a crisis response for monitoring, checking in and coordinating Mana Ake support to schools. We looked at where there may be gaps in information and where we could strengthen our information for teachers, which included a focus on teacher wellbeing,” she said.
“Parents and teachers need to look after themselves and really focus on how they manage and promote their own wellbeing, because that becomes a model for younger children. We know that adults, particularly in younger children’s lives, are a huge moderator of children’s emotions. So the better parents and teachers are doing, the better the wellbeing of our children is.”
Fiona Wells, Mana Ake Team Leader, talked about the range of emotional responses that are normal after a traumatic event, and emphasised the importance of naming and validating those emotions. “After stressful or unsettling events it is normal for both parents and children to experience a whole range of emotional responses,” she said.
“Parents can help manage this by taking notice of and naming the feelings they see, saying things like ‘you seem upset today’ or ‘you seem a bit tired,’ and reassuring children that it’s okay to feel whatever they are feeling, that it’s normal after what we’ve been through.
“Parents can support children to feel calm by promoting a calm environment in the home and reassure children by being consistent with routines. Finding opportunities to connect as a family can help, getting outside, playing, or eating a meal together.
“When we are tired and stressed it is harder to invest time and energy into looking after ourselves, but this is important so we can provide care for our tamariki.”
The team has been collating information to share with teachers and parents, including the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing – Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give.
Watch the full Star Media video featuring interviews from Fiona and Clare here.