How to help our kids deal with tragic news

Tragic events take place all around the world and many adults are challenged to process what has happened. As adults we know these types of events are extremely rare. We will react in different ways and with a range of different emotions that might vary from sadness to anger to anxiety.

Children on the other hand, do not have the same knowledge, experience or ability to deal with what they are hearing about these events. It can be very scary for them. They may think that it will happen to them or to people they love.

Upset boy sitting at the table and his sister supporting him while having meal with their parents

How do we help them when they think that these stories can happen to anyone, anywhere, and to them too? How do we comfort and care for our kids in the face of media reports about diseases, disasters, violence and loss of lives? How do we help our children to cope with what they hear?

There are a few ways that we can support our children:

  • Listen carefully to what your kids are saying, talking about with others and hearing in the media.
  • Observe and monitor what they are seeing in the media and assess their body language to help gauge their stress level.
  • Validate their feelings and fears with comforting words even if they seem outlandish or irrational.
  • Educate them about difficult topics and answer all their questions in simple terms – keep details brief and age appropriate.

The links below can help parents fine-tune what they are doing and saying:

PBS – Talking with Kids About the News

Kids Health – How to Talk to Your Child About the News

Today’s Parent – 7 Ways to Reassure Your Child After Frightening News Events

Canadian Family – How to Talk to Your Child about the Scary Stuff they See and Hear

HaltonParents Blog: 10 tips for supporting kids in stressful times

How does your family talk about tragedies in the news?

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). Dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About this guest blogger:

Bonnie Hewitt, RN is a manager with the Early Years Health Program. Although she has 30 years of experience working with families of young children, she turns to colleagues for parenting advice. She has 2 lovely girls who are teens.

Posted in Mental Health, Parenting, Physical Health, preschoolers, School-aged Children, stress, Teens, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The benefits of a healthy smile are more than you think!

On an elementary school ski trip my bestie had her front tooth broken off by a wayward t-bar chair lift. Three things were learned that day and the days that followed; finding a broken tooth in the snow is impossible; exposed nerves don’t like winter air; and while waiting for the tooth to be repaired, my normally chipper (pun intended!) and fun-loving friend did not smile and missed school.

Portrait of Primary Schoolboys and Schoolgirls Standing in a Line in a Classroom

Today I am a public health nurse and a lot of my work involves helping kids meet their potential. Healthy eating, exercise, caring adults and friends all work together to help toward this goal. Oral health is an important part of this and we need to take care to keep a healthy smile. Dental injury or the development of cavities cannot be ignored as our oral health affects overall health and well-being. Continue reading

Posted in kindergarten, Mental Health, Oral Health, Parenting, Physical Health, Preschool, School-aged Children, Teens, Toddlers, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 tips for supporting kids in stressful times

As parents and caregivers, we might see our children’s lives as being carefree and happy. Hey, they don’t have to pay the bills, take care of the household, feed the family or chauffeur people all over the place!

Sad boy lost in his thoughts

But kids experience plenty of stress. Our kids hear frightening things about our world from social media, their friends at school, or the news in the background. Scary things like school shootings, natural disasters and talks of nuclear war. They even can be worried about those experiencing a tragedy on the other side of the world. Depending on your child’s age, they may have a very limited understanding of things like geography, politics and the likelihood of specific events affecting them.

Continue reading

Posted in Mental Health, School, school health, School-aged Children, Services, stress, Teens, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Is it hormones or mental health? What every parent needs to know.

I heard shouting down the hall… then crying. My daughter entered the room with an empty mug in her hand and she’s sobbing. “She spilled my hot chocolate.”

So we are crying over…. spilled hot chocolate?

Understandable behaviour if she was 5 but she is in her mid-teens and it took me off guard.

Hands of mother consoling sad teen daughter crying

I consoled her with a promise to make more and as I folded her into an embrace, I caught my husband’s eye across the room. He raised his eyebrows but said nothing. Continue reading

Posted in Mental Health, Parenting, School-aged Children, stress, Teens, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In an emergency, would your child know how to call 911?

Boy in phone booth holding landline corded phone and cell phone to compare

A few years ago, we got rid of our landline phone. The only people calling us were telemarketers – even the baby boomer grandparents had moved on to texting us!

Our kids were babies at the time and to be honest, I didn’t think about them needing to use a phone. Who were they going to call anyways??

Wait… Even little three and four year-olds have called 911 and saved a caregiver’s life. Continue reading

Posted in Parenting, Preschool, preschoolers, School-aged Children, Toddlers | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Who’s the boss? You or your phone?

The dinner is on the table, the milk has been poured, and everyone dives in. Well, everyone except one. There is one person at the table checking their phone.

No. No. Not my daughters.

Like many households, we have a no-device-at-the-table rule. Apart from the occasional reminder my kids have done well to remember and even respect this guideline. It has long been established that the dinner table is a great time to regroup and connect as a family. I am embarrassed to say, however, that there is a rising star in this rule-breaking – my husband. Having recently started a next chapter in his career he is more in demand than ever. Add this to our societal shift of “all things must be answered now” philosophy and you have a dinner-time-device debacle.

Check out this hilarious video below from Commonsense Media:

Continue reading

Posted in Babies, Mental Health, Parenting, preschoolers, School-aged Children, stress, Teens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We went on a family vacation… Without any screens

Mother and daughter happily making snow angels in the snow

2017 was an insane year for our family of four, so my husband and I decided to start the New Year off by taking the kids for a local getaway. I’m talking a small hotel room with a kitchenette for five nights and six days. And no screens.

When I told friends about our plan, the first question was a befuddled “WHY?!” Continue reading

Posted in Mental Health, Parenting, Physical Health, Preschool, preschoolers, School-aged Children, Toddlers, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments