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CONVERSATION STARTERS: HOW TO TALK TO YOUR KIDS IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE RECENT TRAGEDIES?

Nancy Kislin, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Marriage and Family Therapist

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 • 3:33pm

 

In what seems to be a season of senseless deaths and tragedies, how do we talk with our children when sadly two apparent suicides happened in our community? How do we begin to help our children understand?

The events of this past week once again demand us to pause and take an inner look at ourselves, at our children and our community.  It reminds us that we, our children's parents, teachers and community leaders, are our children's role models.  

At times of crisis we need to reach deep inside ourselves to find our inner strength and courage. We need to remain calm, rational and convey a sense of control. Try not to talk about the crisis on the phone or with your spouse with the kids nearby.  Children tend to hear everything.

Honesty is always a good strategy. Acknowledge it is very sad and a scary time but that this is a rare event. Reassure your children they are safe. Create a safe place and time to talk with them. Stop, look them in the eyes and listen.  

Now, more than ever try to spend some extra time with your children. Find a special project to do together, take a walk or anything else that let's them know that you are available. Keep your kids close to you, if that is what they need. If your kids want to sleep in your bed, suggest having a slumber party on the floor your bedroom.

Respect your child's feelings. Acknowledge their fear, sadness and their struggle to make sense out of this tragedy.  Tune into their mood. Look for signs such as trouble falling asleep, nightmares, escalation of fears, loss of appetite and even a constant need to know where you are.

If your children have friends that were affected by this tragedy, let them know that saying I am sorry, is just fine. 

Helping our children heal is a process.  It takes patience, attention, love and honesty. Don't worry if your child does not talk about the recent situation. Crayons, magic markers and clay gives kids any age an opportunity to express their feelings.

Say a prayer for the families who are in crisis. Perhaps you are not religious, try reciting a poem or make up a prayer with your child.  The act of prayer can give kids a sense of hope.  

Remember to take time for yourself to breathe and have gratitude for all that you have in your life.

Don't hesitate to ask friends, clergy or a therapist for assistance in helping you and your family during this challenging time.

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