There comes a time in every parent’s life, when one cannot shelter their child(ren) from tragic and or traumatic events happening in the world.
As the youngest citizens of the world, children (depending on their age) will absorb, question, think about, and may need clarification when they come to you with questions regarding a big event.
Take care of yourself as a parent. When we hear about tragic news, we need to process it as adults and additionally, be there emotionally for our children. Take time, even a few minutes to do something for yourself that will support you (a walk around the block, drink a cup of tea, listen to comforting music, call a friend or family member). Self– care is imperative to be able to give to and support others. The more ‘whole’ you are, the more present you can be for your child.
If a child asks a question about an event (war, terror, accidents in the news etc.), be present and take the time to talk with your child – only answer what your child is asking. There is no need to elaborate. Reassure your child that his/her parent(s) and caregiver(s) will always be there to protect him/her.
We process events and experiences by thinking, reflecting for a while. We then become distracted or busy with ‘day to day’ life and then these thoughts may reenter our minds. Your child may think about an event that he/she has heard about and only begin to talk about it or questions it a few days or weeks after it has occurred. This is reasonable and to be expected. Some children will not be impacted as much. You know your child best – trust yourself!
Be sure to have conversations regarding any sensitive topic when your child is not around. Even when grown -ups try and talk ‘in code’ children understand that something is not right. They may become anxious from hearing bits and pieces of a conversation that is not meant for them.
Lean on your friends and fellow community members to process and talk about the various feelings and thoughts you may have regarding a difficult event.