How To Talk To Your Kids about tradgedy

Dec 17, 2012 -- 8:46am

Tragedy In Connecticut: How To Talk To Your Kids

As a parent, whether you live near the incident or far away, you naturally think about your own child(ren). What will you say to them? What will you do? Here are seven suggestions:

1. Pay attention. The first thing to realize is that children, like adults, will become anxious about this event. The difference is that their anxiety may be expressed differently. So, while it's natural to want them to feel a sense of peace, the first thing for you to do is to not say anything, but simply pay attention to your children and watch for changes in their behavior. Being anxious in the short term is a normal reaction. However, if it becomes prolonged, consider speaking to their pediatrician. If their reaction is more severe, seek the help of a mental health professional.

2. Limit exposure. The second thing to consider is the effect of the constant replaying of the incident. For some children, this constant retelling of the story can feel like a story that is still going on. These messages can add to a child's feeling of not being safe. So, limit your own and your child’s exposure to the replaying of the incident on the news.

3. Promise safety. The third thing is to assure your children of their safety. Reassure your child(ren) that they are safe and that while there was a tragedy, such a tragedy is a very rare event. Help them to normalize their own situation as you help them try to lead as normal of a routine as possible.

4. Be honest. The fourth thing is to be honest with your children. If they have questions, answer them honestly in a way that is appropriate for their age. Do not give more information than you need to provide. Use your child's questions as a chance to continue to reassuring him/her of his/her safety.

5. Spent time together. The fifth thing is to spend time with your child. Feeling connected to you is a way to help a child. Spending time with you can be reassuring for your child. If you have been in the habit of sometimes reading a story at bedtime, make the extra effort to read a story for the next several nights.

6. Use your faith. The sixth thing is to use the season and your faith tradition to help you address the situation.

7. Take care of yourself.Finally, make sure you take care of yourself and how you are being affected by this. Think about who you can reach out to. Draw upon your own spirituality as you work with your child(ren).

It is possible that some children will not be affected by what took place in Connecticut. As you focus on helping your child(ren) through their responses to the tragedy, you can help them to not be terrorized in the aftermath.

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