In the past two weeks, I have had parents calling me to ask what they should tell their children about the recent terrorist attacks in Israel. These are scary times.
As I mentioned in my last post, depending on their child’s age, my response has been a little different, but there are some things that can apply to all ages. I am going to post a few more ideas for you today. If you missed the first post, you can find it here: Help Your Child In Scary Times (Part 1).
5. Be Honest
This is a hard one.
We don’t want to scare our children, but we do want them to be informed. Unfortunately, life can be scary at times.
Clear, honest, direct information when shared by an adult whom the child feels connected with helps a child to understand their world.
Again. You want to keep it age-appropriate.
I’ll be honest. The horrific things we’ve witnessed or heard about on October 7th are not appropriate for any age! We need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves to be able to talk with our children in an age-appropriate manner.
Start small. Share the minimum amount you think you need to. You can always elaborate or talk about it more at a later time. It is OK not to have all the answers.
Even when you are struggling, do your best to be available to listen to your child.
Listen without judging. Let your child tell their stories or express their feelings and listen.
Children like to have concrete answers. They like to be able to explain things in black and white. Other than talking about Good vs Pure Evil, there is often more gray than black and white.
Listen to what your child is really asking. This is so important it is worth repeating.
Most children don’t need the details, they just want to know if they are safe.
It is OK for you to ask questions.
You can ask clarifying questions to help you understand what your child is really asking. You can ask questions to help you learn what your child has seen/heard. It’s also OK to ask “What do you think?”
7. Limit Media Exposure
I can not stress enough how important this is right now. For both you and your child. Set time limits.
Be aware that kids children hear and see a lot more than we give them credit for. And even though children process things differently than we do, even the youngest children are aware of the tone of voice, the emotions on faces, and when something isn’t “happy” or “ok.”
Please try to watch the news when your child is not around. Better yet, read the news in a way that your child can not see your screen/paper.
Also, be aware that no matter how hard you try to shield your child, unless you live under a rock, they will undoubtedly be exposed to something. If not by you, then by someone else.
Be open to listening (see # 6 above) to what your child has seen or heard. Listen to what they are really asking when they tell you what they saw.
We know that when you pause, watch, respond (👍👎💖), or comment on social media, the algorithms send you more of that content. If you get sucked in watching horrible things, more will be sent your way.
I know how hard it can be to limit your own media, but this is a time to be fierce and follow though with whatever guidelines or limits you have set for your child’s media. You can assure your older children that this is temporary but important. And if you need to, you can quote my mom: “Because I’m the mom and I said so.”
8. Seek Help
I’m putting this here again.
Reach out to family or friends who can support you.
Reach out to your clergy or a trained professional who can help you get through this moment in time.
Asking for help is a sign of strength. It is a sign of self-care and preservation.
You can use the thought from above and tell yourself it’s temporary. It might be a longer temporary than limiting media, but you will get through this and you don’t have to do it alone.
If you missed the last post CLICK HERE to read #1-4.