How to Help Kids Feel Safe in an Unsafe World
Many parents worry about tragedies all of the time in today’s world, especially with the latest tragic events. We know they don’t just care about their children’s safety but also how they’ll react to all of the scary news and events.What can we do or say to help kids feel safe?
Be a Role Model
It’s important for adults to not overwhelm children with their own anxieties. Don’t show them when you are nervous and fretting. Keep your updates to them factual information instead of emotional statements. If you are feeling a bit jittery or overwhelmed after a tragedy, imagine how your kids might feel. Children mirror adult’s behavior, so watch what you do and say around them.
Reassure them and let them know that even though there are scary events happening, that they are going to be ok. Tell them they are safe; this is the key to helping them feel better.
Monitor the Conversation
To help reduce your child’s nervousness and anxiety, limit exposure of graphic images on TV and in the news. Inform them what is going on, without always showing them traumatic pictures. Young children may not even need to know every detail about what is going on around them. If they are too young to understand it, they are too young to emotionally handle the information. You want your kids to be curious, and it’s important to be honest when they do ask questions. But, if the details are too much, make sure you monitor how and what you tell them. Always tailor the facts to your child’s level of understanding and give only those details that he or she really needs to know.
Emphasize the Positive
During traumatic events it’s important to assure your child there are also many happy things happening in the world. They need to know there is more out there than people to be scared of. Point out the blessings, love, and positivity in their lives each day. Talk about heroes, the good guys, doctors, paramedics, and firemen. Children are especially vulnerable to change and tragic events because they’ve not yet learned the skills to cope with fear and stress. They look to adults and their parents for reassurance, but it remains an enormous challenge to make children feel safe when we as adults are anxious about scary events, as well as the personal challenges that disrupt our day-to-day lives. Share these tips with your family and friends to help them learn how to help their children cope during today’s challenging times.