Lester B. Pearson High School
Children like adults may feel various emotions as they learn about tragic events that effect our world. Those may range from fear and anxiety to anger and sadness. As teachers and parents our role is to support each child and help them to cope.
Here are few tips to assist you in communicating with students about tragic events:
- Listen - As adults we often want to explain everything to children instead of listening to their concerns. Ask more questions and let the student talk it through.
- After the child expresses their feelings, then you can correct misinformation and provide reassurance.
- Children can be very sensitive to their parents’ worries, fears and anxieties. As much as possible maintain calm with children, it is OK to share some of your feelings with children but equally important, is a focus on your coping strategies.
- Be aware that new stresses may open old wounds. When a child is confronted with a crisis, often losses and upsets from the past may be remembered.
- It is normal for people to try to make sense of things when a serious loss occurs. Allow your child to share his or her ideas and speculations. Help them to separate what they know from what they are guessing about.
- Monitor TV watching and Internet use if the crisis/tragedy has received extensive media coverage.
- Be willing to discuss what happened with your child and answer as many questions as you can. Answer their questions but be careful not to provide more information than they are asking for. Sharing distressing details of the tragedy that they do not already know will be overwhelming. Use language appropriate to the child’s age and level of understanding. If you do not know an answer, it is okay to say just that. Rumors and false information can often lead to more worry.
- Maintain regular routines where possible, however be flexible around expectations.
- Children deal with stress in many different ways and at different paces. While your child may not wish to talk today, they may wish to talk in weeks or days to come. Do checkups and follow up discussion.