The plethora of tragic events in the news combined with the pervasive nature of the Internet and today’s continuous flow of media, parents are more and more finding themselves in the position to discuss difficult situations with their children. To help navigate these conversations, I’ve put together the following tips to serve as a guide to keep these talks positive and healthy.
In the face of tragedy, it’s normal to quickly make a plan to discuss how you feel about a situation. There is one problem with a rash conversation, however: it’s not on the child’s level. The first step towards discussion would be to think about how your child would interpret any horrific event. Once you’ve slowed down and considered your child’s point of view, on your child’s level, then you can begin a good conversation.
The next step is to design the bulk of the conversation in the general sense. In short, do not plan on giving details about the specific events that took place but focus on the bigger concept about grieving, safety and understanding.
The following step is to be ready for the questions that may come your way.. and there could be a lot of questions. You must be prepared to answer them honestly, but again, using language that is on par with the question. Plan your responses to show your child there is hope and that he or she is safe. Creating an environment where the conditions are safe and calm is what they will take from the conversation. It is going to be the most psychologically sound approach.
I remember growing up and having the standard fire drill and knowing that my friends and I, as well as our teacher, would always be safe because we knew what to do. The sense of safety was that reassuring. My children will be growing up in a world that is much different, and we have to be strong. We have to be out in front of any fear in our children. if we do so, we will have the opportunity to show them that being prepared and calm can help us feel safe.
My heart broke when i heard of the events that took place in Newtown, Connecticut. My deepest condolences go to each and every person affected by this tragedy. Newtown looks like the town I grew up in and is also like the one I live in now. This can happen anywhere, but living our lives to the fullest and communicating with our children will help them feel safe. Please talk to your children every day. understand their thoughts and fears, and know their emotions. This is a start to a better world.