Help kids cope with bad news
SADLY a day doesn't seem to go by without the news broadcasting a tragedy of some kind. The recent harrowing vision of the fire that ripped through a residential tower in London is an example.
It is important we talk about such events with our children but how do you explain it, how much will they understand, and what can you do to help your children feel safe?
With the amount of information spread through the many media channels, it is hard to escape the realities of these happenings. Kids will naturally have a lot of questions about whether something like this could happen to them.
As a parent, you can't protect you children from grief, but you can help them express their feelings, comfort them, help them feel safer, and teach them how to deal with their concerns.
One factor to consider is your child's age as this will affect how they process the information about a tragedy.
Younger children may worry that the same sort of thing is going to happen to them. Older children will want more information and are more likely to have strong opinions about it.
Some children experience a range of emotions, including fear, shock, anger, anxiety and grief. Everyone reacts differently to seeing and hearing about horrific events.
This is normal but how can we help our children cope?
Here are a few tips:
Ask your children what they already know about the disaster and what concerns they might have.
Provide accurate information.
Share your own thoughts in a rational way. Remain calm.
Reassure your children about their safety. Discuss your family's plans for responding to a crisis.
Limit exposure to coverage of the tragedy.
Maintain a normal routine.
Avoid dwelling on the scale or scope of the tragedy.
Consider ways you and your children can help victims and their families.
Seek out professional help if you believe your children are overly affected, eg a school counsellor, GP or mental health practitioner.
As bad as world, national and personal tragedies can be, these crises can also be teachable moments.
It is an opportunity for parents to teach their children about life and guide them by acknowledging the event and dealing with the emotions that come with it.
The things you say and the way you teach your children in times of tragedy can help build character and develop hope.
The most important thing is to remind your child and yourself that good things happen in the world.
Let's remember to look on the bright side too. It's not all doom and gloom all of the time.