Our country suffered another gut wrenching tragedy today. The details are still unfolding, but what is unmistakeable is the pain and devastation that everyone is experiencing. My youngest was home with me when the bombings occurred. My initial instinct was to turn on the TV and soak up any information available, but I stopped myself, for her sake. My daughter didn’t need to be inundated with carnage, fear, and speculation. She didn’t need to be more afraid, because let’s face it, these days life is scary enough. Hours later when her older sister came home I could see that my decision was in fact a wise one, because unlike her younger sibling my eldest daughter had been fully exposed to the media coverage of the tragedy. She came home full of fear, anger, frustration and depression all inspired by the days’ events. It was too much. It is too much, for any child. Truth be told it’s too much for this adult too. Which is why I wanted to share with you seven things that I am doing to help all of my children cope with this and every public tragedy that crosses their life’s path in these turbulent and uncertain times. Hopefully they will help your family too.
Help Your Kids Cope With Tragedy 1 of 8When tragedy takes place in the World it's easy to forget that in our zeal for information we can overwhelm our children. One parent to another i wanted to share 7 things that I am doing to keep my kids afloat in their childhood and not struggling in the deep end of adult misery.
Grieve 2 of 8Even if the tragedy doesn't directly affect your family your child may feel connected to the loss emotionally and need to grieve. Let them cry, scream, or just talk to purge their feelings. And if your child needs to stay home from school for a day in the wake of a tragedy, then let them. Don't overindulge this feeling of unease, but there is nothing wrong with giving your child a day at home with you to decompress from the anxiety that comes from a public tragedy.
Limit Media Exposure 3 of 8Limit the exposure your children have to video and photos of the tragedy. A picture is worth a thousand words, but it can also be good for a thousand nightmares. Don't feed the very capable imagination of your child with real footage of carnage.
Dialog 4 of 8Just because you don't want your kids to bathe in the coverage of the tragedy doesn't mean you should leave them in the dark completely. Talk through the event with your child with an age appropriate amount of detail. Answer the questions your kids may have thoughtfully and to the best of your ability. If you don't have the answer find it and get back to your kids with the information they are seeking. Bottom line you don't want your kids to speculate, or look to their peers for information. You want to be the source for your children.
Point Out Heroism 5 of 8Let your children know about what good people in the world do too. Invariably with any kind of public tragedy there are bystandars that step up and help perfect strangers. Knowing that those kind of everyday heroes exist is a good counter to the evil that set the tragic events in motion in the first place.
Review Your Safety Plan 6 of 8Talk through safety plans with your kids. Knowing that there is a plan to deal with emergencies can be extremely comforting to a child. Don't have a panicked, emotional conversation about your safety plan, because that will only stoke the fire of their fear. Instead engage in the conversation using a casual tone. Invite their input. Keep the discussion open and detailed, but light.
Connect With Loved Ones 7 of 8Out of sight does not mean out of mind. Let your child call, skype or text loved ones who are out of town. Sometimes hearing the voices of people they care about who live far away from them can be very reassuring to kids.
Cuddle 8 of 8Never underestimate the power of a hug to make a child feel safe and supported. Curl up and watch a favorite comedy, listen to music, or read a special book. Give your child your undivided attention and physical presence, the best security blanket there is.
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