How do you talk to your children about war, terror attacks and other acts of violence?
It was a topic much in the news in the aftermath of 9/11 and is beginning to again surface with the recent massacres in Paris, the abduction of young girls in Nigeria and the migrations of millions of individuals fleeing the ongoing violence in the Middle East, as well as killings in this country, with the July shooting at military centers in Tennessee.
Licensed clinical social worker William A. Dávila (picture on left), vice president of clinical services forCHD (Center for Human Development), advises adults to address their own emotions to violent acts like the terror attacks Friday in Paris that left 500 people dead or wounded.
“Kids are often more resilient than adults, having fewer life experiences or memories to relate to a particularly violent event.”
Like other therapists, Dávila advises limited media exposure, with little or no exposure to what happened in Paris for the very young. He recommends parents watch media reports with their children, and “don’t be afraid to change the channel.”
He also recommends adults:
- Talk about what you see and what you feel with your kids. Be open minded and listen to what kids have to say.
- Reassure them that steps are being taken against such violence, although that you, too, acknowledge uncertainty but continue to go about your own life.
- Don’t force children to reflect too much on what they are not ready to think or talk about.
Dávila said signs a children may need help include:
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, difficulty waking, nightmares, or other sleep disturbances.
- Complaining of feeling tired, having a headache, or generally feeling unwell.
- Eating too much or less than usual.
- Withdrawing from relationships, having flashbacks, being in a continuous negative mood.
By Anne-Gerard Flynn | firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on MassLive.com on November 17, 2015