Many parents are keeping the television turned off this weekend to shield their children from news reports of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
- Find out what your child knows about the news.
- Listen to what your child tells you.
- Ask a follow-up question.
- Shield children under age eight from disturbing news.
- Avoid repeated TV viewings of the same news event.
- Monitor older children’s exposure to the news.
- Develop an ongoing dialogue with your child about world happenings
Children of military families live with the possible loss of a parent daily, just like kids of first responders.
Experts at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have developed a fact sheet on talking to children about traumatic events with age specific suggestions:
Ages toddler to 5:
- Focus on your child, not the trauma of the event
- Get down to their eye level to talk gently
- Let them know they are safe
Ages 6 to 19:
- Ask what worries them and how you can help them cope
- Offer comfort, be present for them
- Spend more time together, but get back to daily routines
- Suggest quiet times to write or do artwork
The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury has a resource guide for military service members. It focuses on deployments but offers ideas on how to talk to kids about their fears.