How to Help Your Children Process Tragic News

Tragedy is difficult for anyone to deal with, especially children. So, if your children are ever in a position where they have to deal with it, you have to be as patient as possible and consider their thoughts and emotions alongside your own.

In this article, we discuss the different methods you can use to help your children process tragic news.

Process your own emotions

Before you can help your children sort through their emotions, you need to deal with your own emotions. So, take a moment to pinpoint how you feel even if you believe you have already defined it.

You can pray, sit in silence, or cry. Do anything that comes to mind as long as it helps you process your emotions.

Listen without interrupting

When your children share their thoughts and emotions about the tragic news, listen with utmost attention and don’t interrupt them. When they are done sharing, validate their thoughts and emotions without trying to fix or control their fears. Also, don’t dismiss or invalidate their fears. 

Share your feelings

Share your thoughts and feelings with them in an honest manner. Give them accurate, age-appropriate information on the tragic situation.

Also, project an air of empathy, calm, and empowerment when talking to them.

Offer them comfort

If your kids do not want to talk about the tragedy, don’t pressure them. Instead, allow them to come to terms with the situation on their own. However, look out for any form of distress and anxiety and take necessary actions against them.

Be aware of their age

Your child’s age will influence how they process and handle tragic news.

Preschool children: They may become clingy and mimic your emotions. Some of them may even wet the bed or suck their thumbs.

In these situations, do not criticize the child. Instead, talk to them at eye level in a gentle voice. Then, explain the situation using simple words they will easily understand.

School-age children: They may be unwilling to go to school, become aggressive, or have trouble paying attention in school. They may also have sleep issues.

When these happen, let them sleep with their light on or with you. Cuddling up to each other may help you both. Also, talk calmly to them and have them express their emotions. Then, reassure them that they are safe.

Help them move forward

Further, you need to help your child move on from the incident. You can achieve this by doing the following:

  • Limit their exposure to media coverage of the incident
  • Regularly encourage them to express their thoughts and emotions
  • Discuss safety plans that will help them feel more secure and in control
  • Remind them that you are always there for them
  • Maintain their routines
  • Memorialize the victims of the incident by drawing pictures, sharing positive stories, or planting a tree
  • Provide any form of relief to people in need

Discuss mental health

Include discussions about mental health in your conversations with your children to reduce the stigma of mental health challenges. Teach them to stand up for themselves and others. Tell them to be a friend to their lonely peers and help anyone they can.

It is normal for anyone, especially kids, to feel sad, scared, and confused after a tragedy. However, if your kid continues to feel dejected after two to four weeks, they may need help coping. For this, you should seek the help of a mental health professional.

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