Moomah the Magazine
Talking To Your Kids

Talking To Your Kids

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world."

- Fred Rogers

At Moomah the Magazine, we share in the sadness and grief that is consuming parents and children everywhere. We mourn the loss of such young lives and the adults who were victims of yet another senseless and horrific event. Our hearts and thoughts go to the families of these victims.

While we all will hold our children much closer and tighter tonight, let us remember that raising our children to be optimistic, social, and educated will lead to a better world for all. As difficult as it is, do not give into fear but rather, let's teach our children to embrace and enjoy life, to share with others, to be open to friends who are different as well as similar to them, and to seek help when they feel things are not quite right.

Advice From An Expert: Dr. Anne Marie Albano

This past week we were unfortunate enough to witness yet another senseless and horrific event, this time in Newtown, Connecticut. When any tragic event occurs, parents are often left feeling many emotions and struggling to know and understand the best way to react when having to face the conversation about such events with their own children. Should they talk about it or is it best to avoid the topic all together?

It is most likely that your child's school circulated some key points for teachers on what to do/say if they hear any of the students bringing up the event. It is unlikely for the younger students to hear any of the news, however it is possible that older children (fourth grade and up) have had exposure to media etc. Hopefully teachers remain calm, matter of fact, and direct the children back to their parents, whilst reinforcing that things are calm and safe at their own school. If this is the case, then children may come home with questions. The first thing to remember is to stay calm. As a parent, get your crying and fear out when your children are not around. They will resonate with what you are experiencing and if you try to talk with them while anxious, you will convey anxiety.

Before you begin to say anything, ask your children what they have heard. If they bring up statements, such as "there was a man with a gun at school", ask them to tell you about that experience. "What did you hear?" "Where did you hear it?" Remember to pace yourself when asking these questions. Try not to seem like you are interrogating them, instead that you are curious. The first step is to find out what exactly they know.

Once you understand what they know, you can correct the information. If they said anything completely out of range ("100 kids were hurt and the man got away!"), you can gently give them the correct information. "No, sweetie, some children were hurt. The man is not going to hurt anyone anymore". Notice that it is best to leave out specifics as you do not want to feed their imaginations if at all possible.

Go on to tell your children that "this event happened somewhere else and everyone here at your school and in your city are working together to keep you safe". Here, notice that you cannot say that it won't happen at their school, although you may want to. Give them the real and truthful information, that people are working hard to keep them safe in their own school.

You may want to continue by outlining the certain ways that you, as parents, keep a safe home and keep everyone around them safe. List all of the things that you do to make sure that their environment is safe - you lock the doors, you hang around good and fun people, you chose a nice place to live and a great school to send them to.

Ask your children if they have any other questions and answer again in a simple and direct way. Encourage them to ask you anything that comes to mind.

It is not an easy task nor is it something we want to have to talk to our children about, but if brought to their attention, try your hardest to follow protocol; stay calm, stay direct and stay encouraging of their safety.

- Dr Anne Marie Albano

Posted in: Parenting   

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