Imagine arriving home after picking your kids up from school to see your front door slightly ajar (when you’re sure you closed it) or worse, one of your windows smashed. They’re signs that your home has been broken into and your space has been violated. As you begin to process the flood of emotions you’re bound to feel—relief your family wasn’t in the house, disbelief you were targeted, and the incredibly unsettling idea that someone was going through your belongings—you’ll also likely worry about the emotional impact it will have on your children.
A home break-in is an awful and surreal experience that can leave your whole family feeling scared and vulnerable. And while the physical damages can be fixed or replaced, the psychological effects of being robbed can linger, especially in children. Coping with emotional trauma after a burglary can disrupt your family’s everyday life and leave your child scared at night as they are left wondering if it will happen again. However, there are some simple steps to take to instill a sense of reassurance and security in your children.
Get back to your normal routine
Your first instinct after a home break-in may be to keep your kids as close as possible at all times, but sticking to your typical daily routine is one of the best ways to help your children recover from distress. Encourage your children to attend their extracurricular activities, keep any plans and appointments you have, and continue with your everyday life. It might seem forced, but keeping a “business as usual” approach can help reestablish normalcy and provide some comfort.
Install a security system
Burglars are much less likely to target (or re-target) a home with a security system. Talk to your kids about how each piece of equipment can help make your home a more secure place. For example, a “smart” front-door security camera that is WiFi-enabled can connect directly to your phone and will let you know if someone is at the door. Window sensors and motion detectors placed strategically throughout your home and property are all easy to install and will immediately alert you to any unwanted or suspicious activity, helping to ease your child’s fears that someone can sneak in unannounced.
Many home security systems, like Xfinity Home, also come with round-the-clock monitoring, meaning help will be on the way in a flash should something happen. Show your children how the system works and talk about how it can safeguard against future break-ins.
Encourage an open dialogue
It may seem that talking to your kids about what happened is counterintuitive and could frighten them more—but the opposite is often the case. Shock, anger, and fear are all completely normal feelings to experience after such a distressing event and talking about them is a key step in recovering.
Take a proactive approach to safety to help your children feel empowered and in control. Keep an honest and age-appropriate conversation going and answer any questions they might have. Talk about ways you can make your home and neighborhood secure, such as forming a neighborhood watch group or signing up for a self-defense class. Most importantly, make sure they know that it is ok to be upset about the incident, and that you are there to help them navigate their feelings and come to terms with what happened.
Rearrange and redecorate
A fresh new look can be a tangible way to help your children move on from the shock of a break-in. The excitement of picking out a new paint color and a new set of bedding for their bedroom can help distract them from thinking about the ordeal. For a quick fix, simply rearranging some furniture, either in your child’s bedroom or in the common areas of your home, can help provide the change of scenery your child needs to begin to move on from what happened. At the very least, cleaning up the mess, repairing any damage, and getting your house back to normal are all key steps to take.
Don’t disregard your own feelings
As you work to help your children feel safe and comfortable again, remember to take the time to process and come to terms with your own feelings. Talk to trusted friends, family members, or a professional about how you are feeling. Not only is your own emotional well-being important, but kids are masters at taking cues from their parents. Seeing you talk about and acknowledge your feelings in a healthy, constructive way will help them do the same.
There is no quick fix when it comes to helping your child overcome the trauma of a home break-in—anxiety after a burglary is common and expected, especially in children. Although it may take some time to heal, know that your life will eventually go back to normal, and your home will once again become the safe zone your family has always considered it to be.
Learn more about how a home security system can help keep your home safe from break-ins.