The tragic events of last week's Christchurch shooting could be raising some emotions or questions from your children. These may include sadness, confusion and even outrage. While we would like to protect our children from such events, in reality it's impossible as news coverage is so widespread. Two child parenting experts have shared some useful tips on how to navigate the possible conversations and emotions connected with young children.
Michael Hawthorn suggests minimising your children's exposure to the news of these events. As children hear more and more about distressing things, repetitive ‘hearing’ or ‘viewing’ can accumulate stress in their minds. Anxiety can build in other words.
If children say they are worried about what they have seen, try to hear their feelings before moving onto another topic. You can listen by simply acknowledging what they are experiencing. Through this acknowledgement, you’re giving them congruent emotional feedback, which is an essential element of helping children grow their emotional intelligence.
Michael Grose also suggests to take your cues from your children and follow the threads that may emerge. Demonstrate that you understand how they might be feeling and clarify their emotions by responding with, “It's understandable to be upset when you hear news like this”.
He also talks about ensuring that as adults it is important that we moderate our language and avoid value-laden, extreme language when describing the events.
He comments that these are the worst times in terms of social divisiveness but there are things we can be encouraging our children to do. A quote that resonates with this is; “ Teach your children to sit with those sitting alone. Teach them to be kind. Teach them to offer help. Teach them to be a friend to the lonely. Teach them to encourage others. Teach them to think about other people. Teach them to share. Teach them to look for the good in others. This is how they will change the world.”
Kindness, helping others and similar concepts don't make great headlines but they do form the basis of every strong community - which is precisely what our children need. “We get the power back when we start to impact the people around us in small ways, making positive changes for the better” (Michael Grose, March 2019)
Mrs Kate Harris
Head of Junior Years
Michael Grose - Parenting author and founder of Parenting Ideas
Michael Hawthorne - Author and founder of Parentshop.