Parenting Tips with Belinda: Helping Teens Cope with Frightening News

Studio 4

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) –Within the past year and even the past few weeks people are having to see a lot of devastating news and having to cope with it.

It can be tough.

Below are tips from Amarillo Children’s Home Executive Director Belinda Palacios to discussing these traumatic events with your kids. Keep in mind a child’s age and developmental level need to be taken in to account when talking about these things, tailor it for what they can understand and give them the facts that will avoid frightening fantasies.

· Start by giving a few basic facts and watch reactions. You can add or minimize the factual issues with how your child is responding. For younger kids it may be discussing what has happened and reassuring them they are safe. For older teens discussing more in-depth is key to avoid false narratives to creep into their understanding.

· Model calm. If you as a parent highly emotional when discussing this issue take a time out to compose yourself. Kids can absorb your emotion and can create all kids of frightening scenarios in their head.

· Be reassuring. Taking about tragedy is always difficult and news footage can be heartbreaking to watch. It’s important to reassure your child that these are highly unusual circumstances, and it is unlikely this will personally affect them. However, nothing is guaranteed so discussing safety measures they can take if tragedy does occur can help calm fears and build confidence in their coping skills.

· Let your kids express their feelings. Being able to verbally process what is happening and vent their fears/ anger/ etc. is very important.

· Being developmentally appropriate. As said above, take a child’s age, developmental level into consideration when providing information. Do your best to answer their questions in ways that has a clear understanding.

· Be available for you kids if they have additional questions or need more reassurance from you. If your kids are upset about what is going on spend more one-on-one time with them. A parent’s presence is sometimes the best medicine.

· If a family has lost a family member during a tragedy be sure and memorialize them. This can be from sharing stories, planting trees, drawing pictures or releasing balloons. Also helping those in need can be very therapeutic. This is a way of helping our kids understand there is something you can do.. maybe not with the world tragedies but with those crisis at home.

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