Events in the news can cause parents and children to worry about themselves and others, and can lead to parents feeling unsure as to what information they should give to their children.
Sometimes it may seem like these things are happening very frequently, but in fact they are still rare although they may happen close together.
If you are concerned about how to talk to your child about these upsetting events, there are a few simple general guidelines that can help:
- Give them the opportunity to talk about events and to ask questions
- Try to manage your own anxiety so that you can provide calm reassurance to your child about their own safety
- Answer their questions openly and honestly in language appropriate to their level of understanding. For example, it is important to use the real words such as “dead”. Euphemisms including lost or gone to sleep may appear kinder but for a child can cause complication and confusion.
- Only give as much information as the child wants. This is usually indicated by them asking a question – if they have asked the question it usually means that they are ready to hear, or need to hear, the answer
- Try to answer only the question asked and avoid giving extra detail. There is a fine line between being honest and overloading a child with information they do not want
- If faced with a question that you find particularly difficult, or one that you are not sure how to answer, it can be helpful to ask the child what they think. This will give you an indication of how much the child already knows and understands
- Look at Child Bereavement UK’s Information Sheets for more detailed guidance on a range of subjects, including: After the event – supporting children after a frightening event