Helping Our Children Cope With Tragedy
Understanding tragedy can be very difficult and overwhelming for a young mind to cope with. Also explaining tragedy without adding to fear can be difficult for a parent/guardian as well. Below is a list compiled by local blogger, Winnie Caldwell of St. Louis, MO who appreciated a list of coping mechanisms for her and her family as they were victims of the tornado that took homes of many residents of Hazelwood, a few miles from Ferguson, MO, April 10, 2013.
Tragedy has no face, and there is no way to predict it but we can be prepared when it arises. These are simple tips that can be practiced amongst family and friends.
-Focus on the child(ren). Exude a great amount of love and ensure things will get better.
-Listen to your children and respond accordingly.
-Monitor what your child is watching on TV. Limit their attention to the news and media. Watching briefly is okay to be aware but no need to fill a young mind with worldly concerns.
-Be peaceful. Reacting out of fear, anger or sadness doesn’t teach children how to cope. Remain calm so that emotions don’t overshadow communication for safe well-being.
-Unite. If there is a tragedy amongst your community, try uniting with neighbors. Coping starts at home. And the adults have to enforce unity for children to follow. Have neighbors over for dinner or join together to clean your nearby park, just an idea.
-Remind children of their safety. Ensure children they are safe at home and also at school. Remember Channel 9’s ‘Sesame Street’? That show exuded a community that stayed together was safe together.
-Remind children that there are trustworthy people as leaders. It may be difficult to see at times, but there is someone who will bring the tragedy to an end. There are very powerful influential people who are hand-picked to help communities thrive from hardships.
-Remember that exuding emotion is okay. Help the children to know that it is okay to be angry or sad.
Hear their response and answer truthfully with their feelings considered.
-Observe children’s emotional state. Depending on their age, children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a child’s level of grief, anxiety or discomfort. Children will express their emotions differently. There is no right or wrong way to feel or express grief.
-Be aware of your emotional state as well. Get enough sleep, exercise and nutrition. Talk to friends, family, religious leaders and/or counselors.
-Consider praying and/or meditating with your child. Writing, drawing or listening to inspirational music can also help the mind.
In honor of the late Michael Brown, this list is compiled in his memory of the fact that Brown didn’t create problems, he fixed things. Therefore starting to fix things at home is the best way.
Here are some other resources that may help as well.
The Wire Hanger by Winnie
“Hang up your problems and move on to better.” ❤