Helping Children Cope With a Tragedy
America is shocked with the horrible news that is coming out of Las Vegas, at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, and country music fans are horrified that something we love so much is the reason why over 50 people are dead today. And on a local level, we have a Lafayette Police officer, Michael Middlebrook, who was killed, right here in the city we love. Horrible events that happened on a Sunday night when most people were wrapping up their weekends.
One of the reasons I love country music so much is that it can be enjoyed by the entire family. Grandparents and small children alike are seen at country concerts and festivals every day. And locally, I personally know many police officers, sheriffs, and first responders. I'm heartbroken at the senselessness of both of these events.
So what do we tell our children about this, or any tragedy that is front and center on every TV station, Radio station, and definitely all across social media?
The Mayo Clinic has a few timely tips about how to handle stressful events with your kids.
- Do I need to talk to my child about the tragedy? If you don't do it, there's a pretty good chance they are going to find info about it elsewhere.
- How do I start a conversation with my child about a tragedy? Pick a time when they are most likely to want to talk, and start out by finding out how much info they already know about the event.
- How do I explain the tragedy to my child? Tell the truth, and don't share unnecessary details. Listen to their concerns
Here are some recommendation for how to talk to different age groups:
- Preschool - speak calmly and get down on their level to explain the situation to them as gently as possible. Share steps of how they are going to remain safe
- Elementary and early middle school - this group will most likely have more questions, and need to be reminded of the difference between fact and fiction
- Upper middle school and high school - this is the age group that will want more information, and will have strong opinions about the cause of the event. They usually want to help those affected
What to do:
- Remain calm
- Reassure them of their safety
- Limit media exposure
- Avoid placing blame
- Maintain their / your routine
- Spend extra time together
- Encourage expression of feelings
- Seek out school resources
- Do something for those affected by the tragedy