How to Talk to Children After a Tragedy?

How to Talk to Children After a Tragedy

Tragedies change the life of a person completely, especially when you are not mentally prepared for them. There are times when children go through some tragedies, either the death of a parent or some other loved one. These severely affect their mental state. Also, the childhood tragedies and trauma are often linked to various mental health conditions like generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, depression, etc. Thus, it is necessary to help your children cope with a tragedy.

But, the major question is how to do it? How to talk to children? Basically, children have a delicate mind and it is difficult to establish a sense of understanding in them. Here is some advice by Dr. Phil McGraw that can help you communicate with your children and help them recover from some tragic incident. These are:

  • Talk to children and reassure them of their safety. Make them feel safe. Try to know the questions arising in their mind and avoid indulging them in conversation relating to the tragedy. Make sure that the children got all the answers for their questions from you. Make positive physical contacts, hug them, or hold their shoulders to comfort them.
  • Try to talk in a normal tone. Don’t exaggerate the things as it might scary them.
  • In case children are below 6 years of age, it is necessary to keep them away from the tragedy as much as possible. Keep them away from the media. Children of this age have delicate mind and they are not able to understand the things properly. They even don’t know how to react to a tragedy. Also, if they somehow come to know about the incident, tell them the truth. Don’t try to hide it anymore. However, make sure that you don’t tell them things in detail.
  • If children are 8 years old, answer their questions, tell them about the situation properly, reassure them about their safety. The main reason behind the children getting scared or developing negative thoughts in their mind is lack of reassurance and safety from elders. It is important to make them feel secure and talk with them about the situation.
  • In case of older children, conversate with him/her intelligently. Talk to them about everything they want to know, make them understand the situation. Tell them how they can establish a balance in their life.
  • Don’t make changes in the daily routine as it won’t help children cope with the tragedy.
  • Manipulate the information while talking about the tragedy to children. For example, if you are talking about death of some loved one, tell them that it was because they were sick, or it happened because they were in pain. Also, if you are talking about some other tragedy like a bad event, tell them that it was because of some bad people. Also, reassure them about their safety.
  • Be patient with their reaction. Children process things internally and their expressions describe their reaction. When you tell a child about some tragedy, you might observe sadness, irritability, anger, or even guilt in them. You may also observe stomachache or headache and fatigue.
  • When there is violence involved, there is a chance that the children might get back to their old behavior. Thus, it is necessary to talk with them and ask them about their feelings. A healthy communication with children can help them recover from a tragedy and can help them in getting back to their normal life.

However, if none of this works and you observe that your child is isolating or withdrawing themselves, seek help from a professional as soon as possible.