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The best way to make sure kids know they are safe, is to talk with them about what they see and hear and give them a chance to express their feelings.
Parents with children reacting to news should:
• Know all facts: Parents should help their children cope with attacks first by finding out how much they know about what happened.
• Know yourself: Try to be aware of your own anxieties in order to know your child’s.
• Know your child: Children may not have verbal capacity to discuss their anxieties. Watch for new behavioral/physical manifestations of their fears. For example, your child may reveal his/her anxiety by not wanting to separate to go to school or camp.
• Reduce media exposure: It’s important to filter information that your child receives so that you can control intensity of reaction, instill in your child your sense of values and moral principles, and keep lines of communication open and let them ask questions.
• Build a plan: Children, no matter their age, are primarily concerned with safety “Am I safe? Is my family safe?” To allay their fears, work with your child to create a safety plan.
Remember: World disasters are scary for adults and children alike. Always reach for more assistance when unsure of your next step.
Dr. Charles Sophy currently serves as Medical Director for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. He also has a private psychiatry practice in Beverly Hills, California. Dr. Charles Sophy, author of the “Keep ‘Em Off My Couch” blog, provides real simple answers for solving life’s biggest problems. He specializes in improving the mental health of children. To contact Dr. Sophy, visit his blog at http://drsophy.com.