Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Talking with Children when the Talking gets Tough

As adults we hope that tragic events, such as natural disasters, missing children, shootings in schools, death and war will never happen anywhere. We want to protect our children from the pain and horror of difficult situations to ensure they have a happy, innocent and carefree life.

So what is a parent to do when disasters will the airwaves and the consciousness of society? Purdue University Extension offers these suggestions:

First, don’t assume that the kids don’t know about it. They probably know more than you think. Not talking about it does not protect children. In fact, you may communicate that the subject is taboo and that you are unavailable if you remain silent. Be available and askable.

By listening, you can find out if they have misunderstandings and you can learn more about the support they need. You do not need to explain more than they are ready to hear, but be willing to answer their questions.

Share your feelings, but be careful not to overwhelm them. You can tell them that you feel sad, angry or frustrated and tell them how you deal with those feelings.

Help children use creative outlets like art and music to express their feelings. They may not be comfortable or skills with words, especially in relation to difficult situations.

Reassure young children and help them feel safe. It is important to let them know that they are not at risk – if they are not. Try to be realistic. You can try to support them and protect them, but you cannot keep all bad things from happening. You can tell them that you love them, though. You can say that, no matter what happens, your love will be with them. That is realistic, and often that is all the children need to feel better.

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