1. Remain Calm – Children often look to adults to see how they should respond in a given situation. Although the attacks in Paris are very serious, your child needs to see that you are handling everything in a calm and positive matter.
2. Age Appropriate Conversations – Honesty is always important as our kids are smart enough to recognize when we may be “sugar-coating” a situation. However, be mindful of how many details you give your child as it may be traumatizing. For elementary aged children, the conversation may look more like “There are some bad people who are purposely being really mean to nice, innocent people”. For middle school and high school kids/teens, you can use this as a conversation starter using questions like “Have you discussed similar topics in social studies class?” or “Is there any part of what you heard that you have questions about?”. Make sure to get a clear understanding of what your child knows and clarify any discrepancies.
3. Empathy and Listening – Often times a child just needs a place to vent any concerns. Use this opportunity to listen for any fears that your child has. Instead of discounting feelings with statements like “Don’t be scared”, respect the fact that those are their feelings and remind them that they are safe. This is also a good time to review your family’s safety plan in the event of an emergency. This allows a child to practice what to do in a time of crisis and for them to feel assured that there is a plan in place.
If your child’s school has a school counselor, remind your child that he or she can always go to their office to talk about any concerns that they are feeling while at school.
My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the victims and their families.
Miss International 2015