Many parents and families may be wondering how to talk to their children about horrific events that sometimes happen in our world. Hearing about the recent tragic event in Florida may have left your child with a number of questions or feelings of anxiety. Although many families try to shield their children from media coverage, children of any age can hear about events from peers or others in the community. If you need to have a conversation with your child about such an event, consider the following tips to help guide your discussion.
Ask and validate: Ask your child how they're feeling about a particular event. Taking the time to allow them to get their thoughts out is important. Parents should validate their child's feelings, making statements such as, "It's okay to feel worried or upset." Parents are likely feeling emotional as well, but it is important not to project those feelings or emphasize your own fears during this discussion. Providing reassurance and a sense of calm is of the utmost importance.
Put things in perspective: Help your child understand that there are many more people in the world with good intentions rather than bad. Take notice of the first responders or strangers that helped others in tragic situations. Reassure children that there are many individuals working hard to ensure that violent acts don't occur.
Monitor reactions: Many specialists recommend that after you've had an initial conversation about an event, only talk about the situation when your child expresses additional concerns. Parents should spend extra time monitoring their child's exposure to news coverage and social media documentation. Monitor your child’s sleep, mood and behavior, taking note of any changes.
If you need more information or support, the Child Psychologists at Child and Family Development are happy to help.