With the rise of media, whether it be 24\7 news coverage, or social media, it is becoming more difficult to shield our children from traumatic events happening around the world, and here in Canada. Hearing about these disasters can cause fear and anxiety for our kids. Here are some tips when dealing with these difficult situations:
Encourage discussion: Allow your child to ask questions and express their feelings or thoughts. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have all the answers or know what to say, honesty if even the answer is “I don’t know” is better than no discussion at all. It’s okay if your child gets upset, just reassure them and physically comfort them (hugs etc).
Limit child’s exposure to media: Watching too much news coverage on a specific negative event can certainly exaggerate fears in children, and adults alike. If they show interest in learning more about a tragedy make sure it is age appropriate, and certainly make sure they aren’t viewing graphic imagery or videos.
Kids News: There are various news outlets setup just for children. CBC Kids News is a great Canadian option. They present hot topics in a way that is appropriate for school aged children. Using a news provider like CBC Kids News is the perfect way to not shield your child from what’s going on in the world they live in, but keep it suitable for their young minds.
Monkey see, monkey do: Children will be watching their parents to see how they react to a particular event. How stressed are they? Are they concerned for their safety? You are their biggest role models so your reaction to events will show them how they should react as well. Try to remain calm as to not overwhelm your child.
Get involved! When disaster strikes it can help children (and adults!) to do something to help the situation. Not only is it going to help those affected, but it will help you to feel less powerless and helpless. Donate money, time, organize a fundraiser, just make sure your child is involved and discuss why it is important to help those in need.
Reassure your child: Remind your child that they are safe and live in a safe community. You can also remind them of safety measures that are in place to help keep your family safe. Try to keep your routine and bedtime as normal and on schedule as possible.
Love, love, love: Expressing your love to your child both verbally and physically (hugs, snuggles etc.) can be helpful as it supports them to feel more secure and safe. Continue to let them know you are available for discussions and listen to their feelings at any time. Also, look for signs of anxiety which can include nervousness, acting out in school, clinginess etc.
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