1. Manage your child’s exposure to media about the scary event. Media tends to sensationalize and highlight extremes. Experts agree that children under 5 don’t need to know about a scary event unless they come to you with a question. If your child between 6-11 asks questions, answer specifically what they ask, validate their feelings and assure them that they are safe. Give examples of who/what is keeping them safe. Minimize exposure to media. Ask older children what they already know and help them find factual information.
2. You don’t have to answer a difficult question immediately. Answer when you are ready. Often kids drop a challenging question on you at the worst possible moment. It’s OK to respond with: “That is an important question. We don’t have time to talk about it right now. Let’s plan to talk about it …..” Choose a time as soon as possible. Make sure you initiate the conversation. It validates the importance of their question and teaches them that you take their worries seriously.
3. Validate their feelings. Tell them it’s OK to feel like they do. Just listen- you don’t have to have all of the answers. You just have to create an environment where your child feels safe to share with you.
4. Explain what is in place to keep them safe and how they can help keep themselves safe.
If you would like help crafting a response to a difficult question, feel free to contact me and I’ll help.