Kids often have many questions and concerns following a tragedy or community violence.
Here are some parenting tips:
Given that every child is a unique creation of God, parents should adjust their responses given each child’s age, developmental level, and personality
a. especially for emotionally sensitive kids prone to worry or sadness
Keep discussions of the details of the tragedy or violence to a minimum. Emphasize the measures taken to restore safety.
a. Minimize exposure to media accounts on tv, radio, electronics, conversations amongst adults
b. Emphasize the bravery of police, fire fighters, soldiers. Note their coordinated efforts.
If your child has questions about the event, answer them honestly, but briefly.
a. Don’t lie, as you want your children to know that they can always trust you.
Pay attention to your child’s feelings in response to the incident. They may feel sad, mad, worried, or confused.
a. Validate these emotions as they are all appropriate under the circumstances.
b. Effectively manage your own reaction as a parent, as your children are taking important cues from you about how to respond.
c. Remember that you set the tone as the parent.
Encourage positive coping skills such as praying, talking, writing, drawing, playing, and exercising.
Children might want to offer to help. Channel their energy in positive ways, such as praying for victims and their families, sending cards of encouragement to those impacted, or donating a portion of their allowance.
Spend time reflecting on Scripture that reassures us that God is still in control, and has good plans for us.
If changes in sleep, appetite, mood, behavior persist, consider consulting a professional such as a counselor or pediatrician for additional guidance.
Sheryl Cowling is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in children, adolescents, trauma, and multicultural counseling.