With the recent tragedies in Boston and West Texas, parents must find a way to reassure children in an age appropriate manner. Younger children may not understand and need assurance. While older children can become overwhelmed with the constant media coverage.
Children process these things differently. To help parents respond, Latina On a Mission asked Dr. Phyllis Ohr, Child Psychologist for Press4Kids’ News-O-Matic, the first educational, news app for children 7 to 10 years old. Dr. Ohr is also the Director of the Child and Parent Psychological Services Clinic at Hofstra and the Assistant Director of the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program.
Below are five (5) tips from Dr. Ohr on how parents can address news issues with children and what children can do to feel better:
- When the event does not personally affect the child, reassure them that everything is okay with the people they love and that nothing has changed for them.
- Be sure to stress to children that if they do have questions to ask parents, teachers as well as friends. Other children having the same feelings may be comforting.
- Begin by giving the child a brief synopsis of what happened by using age appropriate language. Ask if there is something they want to know more about or if they need something explained further. If so, stick to pointedly answering their question or clarifying. Do not add on or digress.
- Do not assume the news will make children feel a certain way. Ask if they know how they feel, but stress that kids feel all different ways when they hear important news and sometimes do not know how they feel or do not feel anything which is okay. However, if children are affected by it, it is their own feeling. Reassure children that no matter what they are feeling, their feelings are okay.
- If they are upset but don’t want to talk, suggest a fun activity for distraction or help them use calming skills like playing, drawing a picture or writing a story. These activities help release any upset feelings and make children feel better.
Let’s talk! Has your child asked questions about the recent tragedies? How did you respond? Please share your story or tips in a comment below!