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In light of current events, and most recently the tragedy in our neighboring city of Sutherland Springs, we wanted to share with you some thoughts.  It is our hope that parents of young children are turning off the news when the little ones are around, so they are not aware of the details of what is going on. But in case they do hear, and have questions, concerns, or fears, here is some great information to help you.  We thank Margaret R. Mauzé, PhD, ABPP, Board Certified Pediatric Psychologist, 210-570-6874, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text39913 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for her wise words.

 

Talking to Kids About Tragedy

It seems that almost every time we turn on the news or open a newspaper, we are greeted with another tragedy happening in our country. How do we explain these tragedies to our children while also trying to help them feel safe? Even if we do not show them the news stories or newspaper pictures, how do we help them process information they may hear elsewhere? Below are some tips for talking to your children about these issues.

1. Be Honest. Often as parents, our instinct may be to sugar coat the information presented to our children. When you are honest with your child, you open the door for future communication and show your child that you are a trustworthy resource.

2. Keep it Simple. I recommend providing simple facts and following your child’s lead in terms of questions. “A man shot some other people. Some people were hurt and some people died.”

3. Consider Development. A teenager may have more complex questions or greater understanding of what happened then a preschooler. Consider where your child is in terms of their understanding/exposure to the outside world.

4. Normalize Feelings. Many children will feel afraid and worried that a similar event could happen to them or to someone they love. Acknowledge this fear and share feelings of your own. “It’s okay to feel sad/afraid/angry. I feel sad when I think about it too.”

5. Be Specific About Ways Your Child is Safe. Children need reassurance that they and their loved ones are safe. Remind them of all the ways this remains true. “Mommy and Daddy are here to protect you. We lock our doors to keep our house safe. At school, your teachers are there to protect you. Adults have to sign in and out of the building so everyone knows who is in the building.”

6. Encourage Questions and Expressing Feelings. Some children take longer to process information than others. Let your child know that you are available for questions and that it’s okay to talk about their feelings.

7. Consider Ways to Help. It can help children to participate in providing aid. This will vary depending on their age. Adolescent or college age children may be able to donate blood. Younger children may want to make cards or say prayers for those impacted.

8. Watch for Behavioral or Emotional Changes. Some children will react more strongly than others. If you notice changes in your child (difficulties sleeping or eating, more frequent behavioral outbursts, anxiety about going to school or being separated from you), reach out to your pediatrician for recommendations. Some children will benefit from professional help.

 

 

 


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