ODDS are you have, by now, had several conversation with relatives and friends about the terrorist attacks in Paris and Lebanon. However, have you considered discussing them with your children.
Many parents would say no, but the choice may be taken out of their hands if your kids pick up on the news from the media or friends.
Whether you choose to have this conversation with your children or have it thrust upon you, here are five tips from Marina Passalaris of Beautiful Minds.
1. BE SENSITIVE:
Use age-appropriate language, watch their reactions and be sensitive to their level of anxiety. No matter how mature your child is or how many questions they may ask, it is your role to not go into too much detail with them. I would also suggest limiting viewing news items in the home so you moderate your child's exposure to tragic events and stressful images. When we're seeing lots of confronting images, it can sometimes feel like the crisis is all around us. Kids may not distinguish between images on screen and their own personal reality, and they may believe they're in imminent danger. Explain to your children that Australia and the home they live in is safe.When there is such a focus on all the horrific acts happening around the world, it is very important for children to know about the acts of bravery, generosity and kindness from ordinary people trying to help in Syria, Europe and right here in Australia.
2. BE POSITIVE
Share stories of aid workers, community leaders and humanitarians who are doing their bit to help out.
3. BE BRAVE
It is very important that as parents, we do not display anxiety or fear around children. They will pick up on your own response to the news, so it helps them to know you're calm and in control. If you're feeling anxious or upset, take time for yourself and reach out to other family, friends and trusted people in your community but do not express your fear or pain to your children. They are too young to comprehend it or process it and it will in turn create great anxiety for them. It's important to know that we are not leaving children in a state of distress.
4. BE WATCHFUL
As your conversation wraps up, try to gauge their level of anxiety by watching their body language, considering whether they're using their usual tone of voice and watching their breathing. When children are frightened, they often have nightmares, have issues sleeping or start to display anxiety around going to school. Be on the look out for any changes in their behaviour.
5. BE AVAILABLE
Remind your kids they can have other difficult conversations with you at any time. You care, you're listening and you're available whenever they're feeling worried. As their protector, ensure your children feel loved and safe and let them just enjoy being an innocent child!
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.