Talking to Children About Tragedy
posted: 12.07.2015 by Jayme Hines
Fred Rogers is quoted as saying, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."
With recent events, children are often exposed to scary images and stories that may leave them with questions that are difficult for parents to find to right words to address. As all parents may wish for a safer environment for their children, the truth is that they may be put in the position to have these critical conversations.
The Fred Roger’s Institute offers several helpful hints as you talk to your children about scary events:
- Do your best to keep the television off, or at least limit how much your child sees of any news event.
- Try to keep yourself calm. Your presence can help your child feel more secure.
- Give your child extra comfort and physical affection, like hugs or snuggling up together with a favorite book. Physical comfort goes a long way towards providing inner security. That closeness can nourish you, too.
- Try to keep regular routines as normal as possible. Children and adults count on their familiar pattern of everyday life.
- Even if children don't mention what they've seen or heard in the news, it can help to ask what they think has happened. If parents don't bring up the subject, children can be left with their misinterpretations. You may be really surprised at how much your child has heard from others.
- Focus attention on the helpers, like the police, firemen, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and volunteers. It's reassuring to know there are many caring people who are doing all they can to help others in this world.
The Mayo clinic also offers some information: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/helping-children-cope/art-20047029
As always, if you have concerns about your child, please be sure to check with your child’s doctor for guidance.