The devastating news of the terror attack in Manchester last night is spreading throughout the media today.
With so many young people affected and the attack being at a pop concert attended by lots of families and young people, parents will be finding it difficult this morning to explain this tragedy to their children.
In this digital era, graphic details and images of tragic events can spread fast, making it hard for parents to protect their children from distressing content.
Charlene Brooks, Chief Executive of Parenting NI said, “No parent wants their child to be upset or frightened by tragic events like what has happened in Manchester. Parents want to know how to reassure their children in these circumstances but it can be difficult to find the words.”
Parenting NI are encouraging parents to be interested in what media their children are accessing, to try and take an age appropriate response in terms of how much information to allow their children to have access to and how they talk to their child about what happened.
Charlene Brooks explained “It is better for children to hear about distressing news from a trusted adult, in an age appropriate way. A conversation with your young person will allow them to talk about their feelings and give you the opportunity to give reassurance and support.
Children will often link these kinds of events to their own lives and worry that something similar might happen to them or one of their family members, so it’s important for parents to reassure children that they are safe. You might want to tell them that these events are very rare and most people will never experience it. Highlight the reasons why it is unlikely to happen with positives like emergency services working to prevent it.”
Parenting NI are encouraging parents who are concerned about the impact that the attack in Manchester has had on their child or would like support on how to have difficult conversations to contact the charities freephone helpline on 0808 8010 722.
Top Tips for Talking to your Children about Frightening World News
Finding a balance
Going out of your way to shield children from the news can be unhelpful. Changing the channel or closing your news app when they are in the room can sometimes peak their interest and they may try and find out more or read about it themselves.
At the same time you don’t want to over expose your child to the news so they don’t become fixated on a particular news story. Encourage them to talk to you about any news they see or read about that worries them.
Give children the facts
Children like reassurance from their parents, if you provide the with a clear, unbiased explanation of what is happening they will feel more confident in approaching scary subjects with you. Try reading or watching a reputable news source together to allow time for any questions they may have.
Let them know they are safe
All children want to know that their parents can keep them safe. Try not to dismiss their feelings by saying everything is fine, but instead go through all of the reasons that mean they are in a safe place such as these being very rare events and that there are people working to prevent them or help if they do happen, like the emergency services.
Let them know it’s okay to be worried
Let children know that is normal to be concerned about these type of things. Again you can reassure them that you don’t need to be worried all the time because although bad things do happen, they don’t happen very often.
Have age appropriate conversations
Children’s ability to understand the news and how they react to it will depend on their age. Tailor what you say to your child about world events depending on their age, needs and level of understanding.
Allow them to ask questions
It is common for children to misunderstand traumatic events, as they can imagine something which is worse than the reality. Encourage them to ask you questions about any news they are worried about and this will allow you the space to explain and reassure them.