How a child experiences an event and how it’s handled by those around him have an effect on how traumatizing it can be, notes Child Mind Institute psychologist Dr. Jerry Bubrick. When families come upon news accidentally, parents can be caught off guard and respond in a highly emotional way that can impact children. Television coverage and shocking newspaper headlines can also amplify the impact of a disturbing event or loss.

So even as you try to soothe and comfort children, it is important to recognize the signs of unhealthy coping that would suggest a visit with a professional might be needed. In extreme cases, children can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, but even less extreme PTSD-like symptoms can interfere with a child’s life and happiness. Here are some signs to look for and things to keep in mind: