In our 24/7 news world, it is nearly impossible to keep our children away from bad, depressing news on the internet. It can be overheard in a grown-up conversation, when the television is left on or simply on the radio, in the car. Since we can’t shield our young ones from it completely, our next, and indeed, best option is to help them process it — a skill that would help them handle it in the years to come.
Smartparents.sg spoke with psychologist Daniel Koh for help on the matter. He outlined a three-step strategy:
Listen and support. Similar to adults, different children handle such news in different manners. They may interpret the news in their own personal ways. As children may not be able to process the full cause and effect of the matter, this may result in anxiety over their own safety. If your little one is in distress, reassure and be there for him/her. Some signs of emotional distress include crying, aggression, isolation and withdrawal. Some physical signs of distress include poor sleep, bedwetting, lack of energy and self-mutilation.
Discuss. After understanding how your little one is feeling, it may help guiding him with dealing with respective emotions. Explaining how other people react to similar matters may help calm your child’s anxiety. If possible, it is best to teach this to your child before an incident like this takes place. As younger children tend to view things on the surface, more explanation and guidance is needed.
Building resilience. Watching your tot go through such emotions may be painful to watch and you may even be tempted to shield them from news entirely. Remember that in order to build resilience, your little one has to be given the chance to develop different emotions and depth. Patience and understanding is essential here, however, do not hesitate to seek help when you feel it is needed.
Daniel Koh works with Insights Mind Centre and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org