How to find the right words to explain the attacks to a child?
The horror struck again in Nice. How to deal with the delicate subject of attacks and gratuitous violence with children? If parents tend to avoid the subject in order to better protect them, there comes a time when we can no longer shrink from this truth. How can inexplicable events be explained clearly, fairly but without being anxious?
Submerged with images
The attacks and violence in Europe are particularly shocking. More and more often, children have cartoon images of tears, cries and panic.
“It is important to remember that we must pay attention to images that can be very traumatic for children, it is useless to show them to the little ones.”
Avoid watching the newspaper in a loop in their presence, Having sufficiently established time benchmarks they may think that events always take place.
The impact of these images that we feel is much more important for children. We must explain to them that it is better that they do not see them, that they might have nightmares, and that we will talk with them and explain them.
For the older ones, from 8 years old, it is necessary to be next to them and explain what they see, and to talk with them. ”
Of course, no question of doing as if nothing had happened. It is important to talk to children. To explain them. Adapt your speech according to the age of the children and their ability to understand. They will live a minute of silence on Monday at school, it’s as good as they explained before what they are going to live and the why of that moment.
“We need to talk about these tragic events to children and explain why we are upset.”
It is important to use simple words adapted to the age of the child. A child of 4/5 years will not understand what a terrorist is. It is necessary to remain at the height of child avoiding the anxiogenic details.
The events must also be located in space and in time, if need to show a map and to specify if it is far or near the house, it must also explain that it is finished.
Be present, reassure, explain
Start by trying to find out what they know about events to complete, underpin, and possibly deny some misunderstandings or rumors they might have heard at school or read on social networks.
“For the older ones, it is important to know what they have heard in the playground through their buddies, and there are a lot of rumors circulating, such as” the terrorists are coming to our neighborhood. ” And especially not to believe everything, and to check with the adults if what has been heard is true.
For teenagers, they have access to the Internet, see and read a lot, talk about what has happened, but also let them express their feelings and fears. They are aware of the seriousness of the facts and can very quickly feel anxious at the idea of going out alone on the street, having to take public transport to go to college or high school. It is important to reassure them, talk with them and explain that their fear is legitimate. ”
The important thing is to stay tuned. To hear his questions and answer them. To reassure him, to tell him that all the police are there to protect him and protect all the French.
Do not forget to talk to him about mutual aid, the signs of sympathy of each other, the impulses of solidarity. If we live in difficult times, it is important to make them understand that everything is not black and that in the face of horror, people gather together and reveal their best side to counter absurdity. Be generous with kisses and cuddles, your children will only feel more loved, surrounded, protected.
“Do not hesitate to say that we also feel apprehension but that life continues, that we can not stop living, it is also important to give them a message of hope.
Dialogue, listening, comfort and attentions are essential to help our children through these overwhelming moments. It is necessary to take the time to sit with our children, to listen to them, to surround them and to exchange about these dramatic moments. “
Beware, however, of the nightmares that could break out. Stay alert to your child’s changes (sleep, appetite, behavior) that may be symptomatic of an onset of anxiety and that require external help.
What if they do not ask a question?
If they do not ask a question, explain their outline but needless to drown them in anxiety detail. Tell them if they have any questions