When parents and teachers have to talk about these types of tragic incidents, the conversations may be difficult but they are important, he said. As parents, teachers, and caring adults, “we can best help by listening and responding in an honest, consistent, and supportive manner.”
• Create an open and supportive environment where children know they can ask questions. It’s best not to force children to talk about things unless and until they’re ready. Give children honest answers and information. They usually know, or eventually find out, if you’re making things up. It may affect their ability to trust you or your reassurances in the future.
• Use words and concepts children can understand. Gear your explanations to the child’s age, language, and developmental level, ande prepared to repeat information and explanations several times. Some information may be hard for them to accept or understand. Asking the same question over and over may also be a way for a child to ask for reassurance
• Acknowledge and validate the child’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Let them know that you think their questions and concerns are important and appropriate.
• Don’t let children watch too much television with frightening images. The repetition of such scenes can be disturbing and confusing.
MARK BOSHNACK can be reached at email@example.com.