Joan Schenker shares the following tips for parents wondering how to talk with their children after a tragedy.
We know that God is with us in the good times and the difficult times. “Remember I am with you always to the end of the ages.” Matt. 28:20
1. Children will imitate us. If we model strength and do not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by our own anxious or fearful emotions then our children will benefit. By the same token we must be honest with our feelings. If we are sad, we need to say: “When I see a hurt child, I feel sad inside. I know their mommy or daddy feels sad too. I am glad there are lots of helpers who look out for children just like them and I can be a helper too.”
2. Talk about all of the community helpers who keep us safe (firemen, policeman, nurses and doctors…). Ask: Do you know any other helpers? Say: “Aren’t we lucky to have so many helpers.”
3. Make it a Family Project to be a helper and lend a hand to those in distress.
4. Turn off the television or radio. Limit your child’s media exposure to tragedies as they can create excessive fear and anxiety.
5. Give age appropriate facts about the event.
6. LISTEN. Remember the same letters in the word listen are contained in the word silent. Listen more. Talk less. Show your children the ministry of your presence. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
7. Keep a balance of “nurture” and “structure” in your home. Children are most secure when they know what to expect. Stick to your morning, mealtime and bedtime routines especially during turbulent times.
8. Stay close. Hugs, kisses and a warm snuggle provide the comfort and love children need in stressful times. “Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39
Anchorpoint offers resources to help you strengthen your parenting skills. Individual and family counseling is available as well as parenting classes and support groups. Join us the 3rd Wednesday of each month at the Be a Strong Parent Café to learn and discuss relevant topics with other parents.