Written by Marie-Eve Dubois
This week, we’ve been surprised and shocked by brutal and violent attacks against Canadian military. On Monday, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was rammed over and killed, only 20 minutes away from my hometown, where one of my uncle is a military. On Wednesday, Cpl Nathan Cirillo was shot in front the National War Memorial in Ottawa. Needless to say, these attacks have hit close to home. As Canadians, this is not a reality we are used to- we live in a peaceful and safe country, right?
Now that our reality has changed and that these attacks are all we hear about on TV, one important question for many parents is: ‘Should I talk about this with my children? How?’ While it may seem tempting not to talk about this topic for fear that it will make children worry, this approach is one that may actually backfire. Remember that having a child keep their anxious feelings to themselves will be more damaging then having an open discussion about it. And ultimately, if they don’t hear about it from you, they will hear about it elsewhere (school, friends, etc.).
Here are a few steps if you’re wondering about how to have this discussion:
- Ask your children what they have heard about the events. It is not unusual for news to get distorted-think Chinese telephone. You want to make sure the information your child has is accurate. [click to tweet]
- Explore what is confusing, scary or troublesome for your child. Once information has entered our brain, we can interpret it in numerous ways. [click to tweet]
- Validate your child’s emotions. It is normal to be shocked and scared. Telling a child not to worry won’t make it better. [click to tweet]
- Examine what your child is making of that information and those feelings. Is your child paralyzed by fear? Does he have unrealistic ideas about what could happen? If so, try to deconstruct those thoughts. [click to tweet]
- Be ready to answer questions and address fears for a little while. New issues and concerns may appear over time as a child mulls over the events, develops an understanding of what has happened and what it implies. [click to tweet]
Keep in mind that these strategies should be adapted to each child’s developmental level. Also, each child will respond differently to these types of events, depending on their personality. Children who have a tendency to be anxious may react more strongly to these types of events.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims. In the face of terrorism, let’s stay strong.