It seems that our children are exposed to news of disasters and tragedies much more today than in the past. Children can learn about these either by TV when parents are watching the news; hearing adults speaking about a tragedy; or even witnessing or being involved in one themselves. It can be hard to reach children who are affected by disaster or tragedy. Sometimes we are struggling to cope ourselves and it can seem that your child is not taking the news on board so you can overlook their needs in this situation.
Some things to consider:
- If possible, take time to think through what you are going to say.
- Try to be as calm as possible. As always, model what you want your children to believe in and follow.
- Remember for young children, less is more. They don’t need a lot of details about what has happened but want to be reassured that you are protecting them. Limit their exposure to reports of tragedies. If your family spans a wide age group, talk to the older children (teenagers and young teens) separately, honestly, and with more details as they ask.
- Check out what they might already know and let this be your guide for what you will say.
- If your child expresses fear, reassure him/her that you will do your best to keep them safe.
- Try to keep as normal a routine as possible in the wake of tragedy.
- Provide opportunities for them to express their feelings: Quiet time with them; a walk; drawing or painting, etc.
- Most children would benefit from a tangible way to feel connected to those who have experienced a tragedy: Give them some money to donate to a helping fund; supply clothing to aid agencies, etc.
Know that the effects of a tragedy may stay with your child for a long time. Children may seem to move on but it is important to be listening and ready to be supportive and encouraging.
At Angel’s Paradise we are concerned for your child’s safety and have processes in place to deal with such events.