Parents want to do whatever they can to help their kids feel safe and secure. In the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting and threats of ISIS posing a threat to our everyday safety, how do we explain these acts to our kids?
1) Edit the amount of disturbing news they see. Kids listen to everything. Try to keep high emotionally intense or inflammatory conversation out of their earshot. To keep unnecessary fears and nightmares to a minimum, decide when the news should and should not be seen when they're around.
2) Talk to your kids about what they see. With older kids inquire what they have heard. This is especially true for kids who are on social media. Use TV or online stories as a way to ask questions and start a productive conversation like, "What are kids at school saying about this incident?"
3) Normalize their feelings: Acknowledge feelings with statements like, "Lots of kids and even adults feel scared. It's an understandable reaction to have under the circumstances." Never say, "there's nothing to be afraid of." This would minimize their feelings and could get them to shut down emotionally.
4) Help kids look for the good: Look and for the people who are helping out. Soothe their fears by reassuring them the police, military or other people in the community are their to protect them or help out. Tell stories of people acting like Heroes or good Samaritans. Leave your child with feelings of faith in the community and remind them that most people are good.
5) Help them to take action: This is especially helpful for Tweens and Teens who are developing a more moral view of the world. Help them turn outrage into action. Ask them what they would like to do to help out. Donate relief efforts, send cards or care packages. Help them to feel empowered by taking action and a positive stand.
Following these easy recommendations can turn a frightening situation into a learning opportunity that benefits both kids and parents alike.
For more information visit Dr. Robi Ludwig's website.