Waking up to a national tragedy is never easy. Whether you hear about it from a phone alert, see it on the TV, or learn details from a friend or family member, it weighs heavy on our hearts and makes it difficult to put on a happy face.
There will never be a “good enough” explanation for such violence and cruelty.
And the truth is, this could happen again. Eventually, your child will find out and have questions, even if by accident.
It’s best to be prepared.
REMEMBER THE FOUR ‘S’s
Dr. Robbie Adler-Tapia, an Arizona-based licensed psychologist, offered these four easy-to-remember tips for talking to your children about violence and tragedy.
Provide comfort and consolation for any emotions and fears to help kids feel secure.
- Tip: Don’t tell them “not” to feel scared or anxious. Let them feel their emotions. Be honest about your emotions as well, but remain calm.
Take steps to help children feel safe and protected. As soon as possible, get them to a safe location where they feel protected by people they can depend on.
- Tip: Try to maintain your regular routine. As creatures of habit, people tend to view schedules as a safety net.
Provide the essential services to meet basic needs.
- Tip: If children have questions, let them ask. Answer the questions truthfully but without the unnecessarily gruesome details. Children may not have enough life experience to know how to cope with the overwhelming nature of national tragedies.
If the children are victims, give them a post-incident safety period to rest and heal.
- Tip: Understand that it’s normal for children to be affected by tragedies. If your kids’ behavior changes for a prolonged period of time, however, it is best to consult with your doctor.
This story was adapted from an article by Sonja Haller and Taylor Seely on azcentral.com. To read that extended version, click here.