Handling ‘The News’ With Children.
Posted by: Sue Atkins
I’ve recently had two children referred to me who have a fear of being shot by a terrorist after watching the news about the terrible attack on Ukraine
The problem with 24/7 News coverage is that it blows out of proportion the amount of bad things that can happen and children are very sensitive and can become very anxious about things happening to them that they’ve seen on the news.
Of course it’s only natural to fear if the story runs in the news but what can you do if it disturbs your child for longer ?
Firstly be mindful and turn off the TV – I remember my own daughter Molly being very anxious about the missing children Holly Wells & Jessica Chapman when we were on holiday in Spain as Sky News had it on a loop all day.
We discussed what had happened in context and age appropriately for her and made sure that we limited what both my children heard and saw around this traumatic and harrowing story.
Here are some ideas how you can help your child overcome their fear.
1. Talk and more importantly LISTEN to your child about their fear. When your child’s worries are clogging up their mind, get them out into the open by allowing your child to simply voice their anxiety. Children who feel heard feel less worried. Scary dreams and fearful thoughts lessen once your child shares them out loud with you.
2. Respect your child’s fear by listening to their anxiety without dismissing it as “silly” – their anxiety is very real to them and they need your reassurance and advice about how to handle their fears.
3. Despite seeing “terrorism ” stories constantly in the media, talk & teach your child so they understand that the chances of being shot by a stranger are extremely rare. Look at ways to point out how you keep your child safe – from locks on the doors, to window locks, to house alarms so they can see how safe they are – show them that you are safe in your home, at school and walking around their town ,village or playground.
4. Sit down and ‘talk and tell’ that you are going to delete your child’s Tik Tok for awhile and EXPLAIN WHY! That’s it’s about your child’s mental health and wellbeing. Don’t just get angry and take their phone away. Talk and teach your child rationally that it’s too easy to see themselves in the stories. The images they see are too similar to themselves, the people look like us, they are like us, they are scared like us. So, limit Tik Tok for awhile – like limiting the news – to help them cope.
5. Talk about ways to keep safe when they are out walking to school, going on the bus or getting on a train or going to meet a friend at The Shopping Centre. Discuss ways to stay safe, no matter how old they are as being prepared helps a child feel in control and confident about what to do in an emergency if you are not around.
6. Stick to areas where there are plenty of people around – talk and teach your child to stay safe by making sure they don’t end up walking in a lonely and isolated place.
7. To boost your child’s sense of security and confidence make sure they bring their mobile phone with them ( if they are old enough to have one ) and to make sure it’s fully charged. If your child has limited minutes on their mobile phone, be sure that you refill those minutes once in a while to ensure that they’ll be able to text or call someone if they’re in trouble.
8. Follow your child’s lead and be guided by what they ask and what they know. Children may not fully understand what’s happening – very young children won’t understand at all but pick up your anxious vibes. Be mindful of conversations that they may overhear amongst the adults. Older teens may pick up their information from friends on social media. So dispel myths and scare mongering and reassure and discuss rationally. It’s OK not to have all the answers but look for ways to take down their anxiety not escalate it with half truths be truthful, honest and reassuring.
9. Make sure you are getting a safe space of support too. I talk, cry, vent and talk to my husband who listens, understands and takes care of my overwhelming feelings. I do the same for him. Find someone who you can do the same with – away from your children.
10. Circle of Control. I find if I take action in some small way I feel more in control. So, could you send money to an appeal, get involved in a charity doing something practical. Also I know if I walk my dogs I feel grounded and calmer or I’ve taken up colouring in to meaningful words – that I find on the internet to match my mood. Like ‘Peace’ or ‘Everything will be alright’ – find something for yourself and each of your children that helps them feel more in control of their big emotions.
I use Emotional Freedom Technique or “Tapping” with the children, parents & adults I work with to remove the trauma and anxiety.
Call me on 01883 818329 to arrange your personal session with me.