FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Not sure what to say to your kids about the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England?
Experts at The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) say you’re better off talking through the tough stuff than shielding them from it. Just keep in mind what's age-appropriate.
- Monitor social media use. Help children understand that constant use of social media can be anxiety provoking and may expose them to traumatizing images.
- Be attuned to children’s knowledge of the event and their potential reactions. Be available to talk and listen. Let their questions be your guide on if and how much to focus on the tragedy.
- Provide accurate reassurances regarding the possibility of terrorism in their community. The odds of being the victims of such an event are very low.
- Maintain normalcy and routine while being flexible to children’s needs.
- Let children know it’s okay to have many different feelings and there is no one right way to respond.
- Provide ways for children to express emotion, such as journaling, writing letters, talking, art, or music.
- Focus on resiliency as well as the compassion of others.
- Talk about plans. If questions arise about what to do if caregiver and child become separated during an event engage the youth in conversation about reunification planning. For example, agreeing upon a safe meeting location where the child should wait for a parent or other caregiver.
- Identify the various ways in which people are helping ; emphasize the ability to do good.
Note, too, that children's reactions and questions will most likely depend on their age.
- Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that the daily structures of their lives will not change. Provide concrete examples of safety measures that are being implemented each day at home, at school, and in the community to help keep them safe.
- Upper elementary and early middle school students are more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe. For many, their perceptions of safety will be strongly influenced by social media. It is important to help them become educated consumers of the news, provide limits around the amount of time they are exposing themselves to graphic images, and encourage them to reach out to a trusted adult if they are anxious about what they are hearing.
- Upper middle school and high school students have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence and threats to safety in schools and society. Some may express anger, judge others by the actions of those they perceive as similar to the perpetrator(s) or want to retaliate. It is important to help these students process their emotions and provide healthy coping strategies.
For additional information and resources visit www.nasponline.org .
You can also find helpful advice on how to talk to kids about terrorist attacks HERE .