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.
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:
Caring For Kids – Helping children and teens cope with stressful public events
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?
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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.