Monday, January 17, 2011

Talking to Your Children about Tragedy

Tucson's Tu Nidito offers support for children who are grieving. This post below is from their website. Staff from Tu Nidito will be part of Sunday's Day of Healing for Tucson's children. Tu Nidito is also offering grief support groups for children who are grieving the deaths of the shooting victims. They are also available to offer education and support to schools and teachers to help children deal with their emotions and reactions to the shootings.

When tragedy strikes a close-knit community such as Tucson, the effects are endless. As a community, we mourn the loss of those killed and try to understand why. One often over-looked group is the children within a community who struggle to cope when something like this occurs. Parents may have difficulty explaining what has happened to their children.

Tu Nidito Children and Family Services, Southern Arizona’s “little nest” for children whose lives have been impacted by the death of a loved one or a serious medical condition, offers these tips to parents:
  1. React Carefully. Children observe the way that their parents handle situations. Feel free to share some of your feelings, and let them know that they can share theirs too. If you react with overwhelming fear and sadness, your children might become even more afraid.

  2. Encourage your child to ask questions and be as open and honest as possible. Your child may be feeling confused and unsafe. He or she might feel afraid that the event will happen again or happen to someone that they know. Use your child's own language to explain feelings and validate what they express and are experiencing.

  3. Volunteer or find ways to help. Give your child a sense of security by allowing them to make a difference in the lives of others.

  4. Tune out the media. While it may be tempting to stay up-to-date with the latest developments, try to avoid watching when your children are in the room. Violent imagery, descriptions, and constant replaying and retelling of the story might upset your child, adding to their fear.

  5. Find other outlets for your children to express themselves. This is especially helpful if your child is too young to put what they are feeling into words. Encourage drawing, painting, or playtime to allow them to show how they feel.

  6. Try to get back into a routine. Do not feel as though you should ignore what has happened, but try to stay to your normal schedule including bath, dinner and bed time.

  7. Find a special way to commemorate those who have died. Attend a memorial or light a candle and explain to your child what those actions mean.

  8. Let your child know that they can ask you anything at any time, whether it is in a day, a week, a month, or a year. Tragedy might spark your child’s thoughts on death and they may have questions down the road.

  9. Reassure your child. Sometimes, children ask questions that you might not know the answer to. Try to reassure them that you do everything you can to keep them safe.
  10. If you need additional support, please call Tu Nidito at 520.322.9155. We can refer you to the appropriate resources for help dealing with traumatic events and grief.
All of Tu Nidito’s services are provided at no cost to the families who need them. All of those affected by the tragedy or any death loss should contact Tu Nidito at 520.322.9155.

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