The worry is evidenced on their face after the sight of a reporter surveying the carnage of a van ramming through pedestrians in the heart of Spain’s capital in an act of terror killing 13 including seven year old Australian, Julian Cadman.
Tragic events in the world such as the recent Barcelona attacks that receive extensive news coverage, can distress and upset children. As a parent, carer or teacher, how do you explain these incidents at a level they understand whilst still reassuring them they’re okay?
96five’s Arthur Muhl spoke with Psychologist Susie Burke from the Australian Psychological Society about how to practically help children process tragic events. Dr Burke stressed the need for reassurance that they are safe and secure, as well as help in making sense of complex events, at a level that they can understand. She also emphasized that children should be comforted in the fact that the world is, generally,”a safe, peaceful and beautiful place” and that, “life is worth living.”
The APS has developed some helpful tips for parents, carers and teachers to help them talk to children and young people after community violence.
Here is a quick summary:
- Talk about what happened at a level that children can understand. It is better not to share gruesome details of the event, but give enough truthful and simple information to clear up any misinformation.
- Encourage children to talk about their thoughts and feelings about what happened.
- Look out for possible stress reactions that show that the children are unsettled or distressed.
- Maintain good routines.
- Talk to them about the helpers and heroes that help make the world a better place.
- Foster hope.
- Pay attention to your own reactions and talk privately with trusted adults if you need to air your own feelings and reactions to the event.
The APS has a range of resources for adults, young people and children coping with tragic events and community violence. If you’d like to view them click here.
You can listen to the full interview with Psychologist Susie Burke from the Australian Psychological Society below: