The news can be frightening to kids — especially in the uncertain climate created by global terrorist attacks and, more recently, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. But even traffic reports take on a scary edge when something out of the ordinary happens. School-age kids are old enough to understand what’s being said on the TV or radio, but some may think those endless replays of the same event mean it’s happening all over again, says U.S. Congressman Tim Murphy, coauthor of THE ANGRY CHILD. Here, some effective ways to help kids handle the worst of what’s happening.
Reduce your child’s exposure to disturbing images as much as possible. Read the paper or watch the news after your child’s bedtime; follow breaking events online, or have a friend, rather than the TV, keep you updated.
Give him something to do
When your child does see something scary, help them feel more in control by saying, “I know it’s sad, but maybe we can donate money to the Red Cross, or say a prayer for those families.”
Point out the helpers
Make sure your child hears about or sees the firefighters, policemen, EMT workers, and other people who are doing good. This will reassure them that not everything about the situation is bad, and remind them that there will be people to help them if they need it.
Take action together
If your child seems worried that something bad could happen in your area, devise a plan with them that takes into account their concerns: Who will pick them up from school if there’s bad weather? Who can they call if you’re not there? As Murphy says, “it’s better for your child to learn to deal with crises than to pretend there are none.”
adapted from: Loriann H.Oberlin
School age children learn easily and quickly, usually from their parents, how to cope. Children with nervous or anxious parents usually learn maladaptive coping skills and often become anxious themselves.
Susan Saint specializes in helping children learn healthy coping skills. Fritz Hershey specializes in treating children and adults with anxiety disorders.
Dr. Gnap is a family practice physician and behavioral medicine specialist in suburban Chicago. Dr. Gnap developed the Inner Control™ Program in 1970 and has worked with thousands of people to improve and correct medical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems including performance. He started the Inner Control program because so many patients asked, “what more can be done along with traditional treatment methods?”