Sometimes as adults, we may start to absorb the many distressing news stories that permeate our lives. If we see an epidemic of violence, destructive weather, or world conflicts, we are able to identify how we feel about it and then move on. We may not realize that despite our efforts, our children are also exposed to death and loss in the world, which can cause a lot of fear and confusion. We can help children process their feelings about these big events. Depending on your child, you can use some of these tips to help them deal.
- Open up a discussion. Ask questions, listen intently, and acknowledge feelings related to big events. Children can express their fears and emotions through discussion, painting, drawing, writing in a journal, or even making a plan to help with world disasters (like raising money or donating blood).
- Be there for them. Reassure the child that they are safe, and the people around them are there to keep them safe. Let them know that these events are actually rare, and tell them what in their lives keeps them safe from the things they are concerned about.
- Maintain routine. Children need a regular routine to feel stable, and staying on routine during hard times can help ease anxiety. Also keep tight control on exposure to media and news with distressing information.
- Keep an eye out. Watch out for reactions from children that aren’t verbal. Increased anxiety can cause sudden bedwetting, separation anxiety, disrupted sleep or eating. If the problem is serious, consider seeking support from health care professionals.
- Take care of yourself. Adults are better at putting on blinders and going about our business, but we also need to think about how we feel and if world events are affecting our emotional life. Do some self-care, rest, and exercise. You and your children may also benefit from making a disaster preparedness plan to ease worries.