Terror Close to Home: How to Help Your Child Cope with Frightening Events | Rice Psychology
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Terror Close to Home: How to Help Your Child Cope with Frightening Events

Cope with Frightening Events

Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s piece.

My daughter Chelsea has been distraught all day over the incident that happened at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. Although we’re far away from where it happened, she’s been devastated to learn that something so horrifying can happen during such a fun event. It got me thinking, if something like this were to hit closer to home, how would I help my kids deal with it? Is there anything I can do to help them overcome such a horrible ordeal if one were to ever happen?

A child may find it difficult to express how they’re feeling when something horrible happens. Click To Tweet

Like many people around the world, we at Rice Psychology Group were absolutely appalled with the suicide bombing that occurred at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England on May 22nd. To think that so many young fans with their parents and friends were exposed to such an unspeakable event is beyond deplorable.

For parents, we absolutely hate to think of our kids being exposed to something like what happened in Manchester, but should it, there are a few things you can do to help them deal with it.

Rice Psychology Group can discuss issues with and treat people who’ve been exposed to frightening incidents. Contact us in Tampa today to schedule an appointment.

What to Consider

There are a few things to consider and keep in mind when preparing to help your child deal with a scary situation. These include:

  • Creating a comforting mood/environment – Create a comfortable atmosphere to help your child feel at ease when discussing hard topics. This can help them take in the subject matter at an easier pace. You can do this while playing a board game with them or while they watch their favorite TV show.
  • Waiting until they’re ready – When helping our kids deal with and discuss a tough subject like a terrorist act, it’s very important to do so only when they’re ready. They may be feeling afraid or overwhelmed in the days following an event, so only sit down with them to talk about their feelings when the time is right.
  • Allowing your child to be expressive in their own way – A child may find it difficult to express how they’re feeling when something horrible happens. If your child is this way, encourage them to be expressive in other ways, like making a painting or writing about their feelings on their own time and then sharing it with you later on.

Answering Hard Questions

Create a comfortable atmosphere to help your child feel at ease when discussing hard topics. Click To Tweet

Trying to help your child overcome emotions that leave them afraid and unsure of the world around them is one of the most challenging things a parent will do. Know that there are a few things you can do to make this easier:

  • Be absolutely honest with them. There’s no point in trying to make a serious subject a lighthearted one. Your child deserves to know the truth about the world, the people that live in it and the climates that can bring out the worst in someone. However, if your child is young, be cautious not to frighten them with the subject of terrorism, which brings us to our next point.
  • Speak to them as a child, not as an adult. Although it can be tough to be honest while considering your child’s age, it can be done. For example, if you have a 6-year old, it’s obviously not appropriate to discuss matters relating to death. Instead, you can say that there are “bad people” in the world but most people are good and would never deliberately hurt others. Be sure to let them know that the chances of them being affected by the violence we hear about is very small.
  • Never ignoring their fears is just as important. Your child may very well be afraid of what he or she sees on the news or hears about at school. Never put their concerns on the backburner. If they want to talk to you about what they’re feeling, don’t brush them aside.
  • If your child is a teen, he or she will most likely have one or several social media profiles. News stories spread like wildfire on these platforms, and seeing graphic or disturbing imagery will be a given. Talk to your child about taking a break from these websites, at least until after some time has passed. Adults should be cognizant of not having the news on, repeating images of terrorism or other violent acts. We can become traumatized or re-traumatized by repeated exposure, so turn off CNN, Fox News or your news channel of choice.
  • Let them handle it in their own way if they want to. Sometimes, people just prefer to deal with the downs of life on their own. If your child prefers to do this, don’t deny it to him/her.
  • Ask your child if they would like to do something to help those affected by the tragedy. Perhaps they would like to collect items that are needed, publish a poem or raise money or awareness. Directing energy toward helping others can empower children to feel less vulnerable and afraid.
Directing energy toward helping others can empower children to feel less vulnerable and afraid. Click To Tweet

Helping You and Your Child

Bad things will happen in our world no matter what. Sometimes, these events can make us feel depressed, shocked or traumatized. If you or your child is in need of a professional to overcome these emotions, then our psychologists in Tampa are ready to help. We’ll provide a comfortable, supportive and non-judgmental environment where you or they can express feelings however fit. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

About Rice Psychology

Rice Psychology Group is home to a team of psychologists who work tirelessly to help adults, adolescents and children deal with their issues. Whether you’re currently dealing with depression, going through a divorce or fighting an issue you just can’t understand, know that our Tampa psychologists are here to help.

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