By GalTime Parenting Expert Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D.
Given the recent state of the weather, we have been talking about and perhaps responding to earthquakes and now hurricane threats. Keep in mind, that the kids are paying attention. Whether they are five or fifteen, their awareness of all things both natural and potentially dangerous is on high alert.
They are hearing about it almost constantly via the media, their friends, you, and now (for some of you) even school. Aside from the possibility of stimulating their interest in becoming weather reporters what can parents do to help them deal with their thoughts and their anxieties?
Any time there is something either threatening, frightening, or even tragic that is being reported in the news, parents have a wonderful opportunity to practice talking to their children about sensitive topics.
Here are my thoughts on how you should approach this:
1. Give your children the facts in a calm and informative manner.
2. Offer up a hearty helping of reassurance of what steps you will take to deal with the situation.
3. Give your child a sense that you are aware of what is going on AND that you have a sense of control of what you will do that will lead to the best and safest possible outcome.
4. Ask your child what she or he is worried about and address those concerns one at a time. After all, who knows what they may be thinking. Children and teens have very active imaginations. You cannot provide reassurance if you don't know what they are really thinking.
5.You can always remind them that these events are low frequency events and that is why they are making the headlines.
Related: Detecting Stress in Kids
My daughter loves to remind me of what I told her all throughout her childhood and teen years. Yes, you should always try to make good decisions and have safety in mind and this is called NEWS because it is just that -- events that are infrequent and low-probability. Ordinary and daily events are not making headlines because they are the usual order of the day. You may also want to point out that it is the job of the media to present all issues in a way that the audience will tune in and pay attention.
On a lighter note-while I was recently reminding my daughter to meet blind dates in public venues, she reassured me that her date was unlikely to be newsworthy. She reminds me all the time of what I taught her as a child and later as a teen -- that it makes the news because it's an uncommon event.
Stay safe! Let us know how you calm your kids!
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