Coping with frightening events
There’s no easy way to talk to your child about the nightmarish events and threatening stories she sees and hears about every day, from acts of terrorism and war to natural disasters and community violence. Yet it’s one of the most important things we can do as caring adults.
When your child is frightened, she looks to you for guidance. She takes her cues from you and the other adults in her life.
Don't be afraid to talk to your child about scary topics. If you convey calm and security, even in a very serious situation, she is far more likely to feel safe. She will listen and be comforted by your thoughtful and caring answers to her questions.
Here are some tips:
- Talk in a quiet setting with few distractions.
- How and what you tell your child should depend on her age. Younger children do not need to know every detail.
- Schedule time to both talk and listen to your child’s concerns and questions.
- Children need to be reassured that they and their family are safe and loved.
- Children younger than 12 should not witness (and re-witness) the portrayal of a frightening event on the news.
- Children may experience stress-induced symptoms.
- Try to return as soon as possible to your ordinary routine.
Did you know?
- 1 out of 5, or 15 million kids nationwide, have a diagnosable mental health concern
- 100,000 Massachusetts children with mental illness don't receive necessary care
- 90 percent of children who commit suicide have diagnosable, treatable mental disorders
- 85 state legislators have signed on as supporters of a new bill to improve mental healthcare for children