We’ve had a few tragedies surrounding us recently.
Young children, teens, and even adults may be disturbed by stories and images of people getting hurt. Children can become anxious and fearful about the world around them.
The following guide from Child Development Institute addresses some of these concerns while providing prompts for discussions. I found it to be very helpful.
How to Talk about Tragedies:
Depending on their age and level of maturity, children will perceive things differently than adults. Remember with younger children (up to nine years old), try to be uncomplicated in your explanations without going into details. Be supportive and reassuring during your discussion. Older children will be able to handle more information.
- Be truthful
- Children need to understand what is happening around them to feel secure. Provide them with facts about what happened and acknowledge it was a terrible and frightening event. Help them to see that we share their feelings.
- Encourage any questions
- Ensure your child feels as though they can approach you to ask questions as much as they need. Sometimes a child will process a tragic event much later and come back to you again for more discussion. Remind them that questions are welcome.
- Feelings are normal
- Some children may take a while to get over tragic events and that is perfectly normal. Allow them to cry if they need to and show their emotions. Share your feelings about what happened to them. Help your kids to verbalize their feelings with you. Secure them with a warm cuddle and remind them that they are safe. Keep things in perspective and remind them that not all people are harmful towards others.
When talking about tragedy to kids, your choice of words really depends on the age of the children. In any case, though you should:
- Ensure they feel safe
- explain to them that it is a real misfortune what has happened and that we all feel for those people who were there or are experiencing pain.
- Stay close by and show affection as they desire
- give them a hug and reassure them that their world is safe. Keep them among familiar things (family, friends etc) until they’re feeling more secure.
- Allow the children to talk about it and how it has made them feel.
- Honestly answer their questions and try to put their minds at ease. By not talking about it may make them think it is taboo.
- For teens:
- talk with them, listen and ask questions. Stabilize the subject by asking “What are your friends saying about it? How are you feeling?” Make sure they’re receiving the true facts. Tell them you’re there for them.
- Be watchful for behavioral changes
- Note: these are habitual changes that have become your child’s new normal post a traumatic incident.
- kids who are behaving differently, such as not sleeping at night, feel frightened, don’t want you to leave them.. Monitor behavior change and if you’re questioning the duration of behavior, speak with a professional.
For more information on how to talk to your family about tragedies, check out https//childdevelopmentinfo.com
Keep Living Out Loud
in HIM, terry