10/31/2023 0 Comments
The world has become a much smaller place using social media. News that once took days or weeks to
travel the globe now only takes minutes. This can be a benefit to some, but when it comes to protecting
children from the reality of the situation overseas it can be a challenging task.
Having the news at one’s fingertips can have a tremendous effect on children no matter the age. So how
can parents alleviate fears? The simple answer is to be honest, keeping the age of the child in mind.
Discussing Sun Tzu’s, The Art of War, will not be helpful when talking to your six-year-old.
Children pick up cues by watching the adults in their lives. Your reactions can help guide and ease fears
from the barrage of pictures and the recounts of those who are living through this devastation. If you
remain calm, then your children too will remain calm. Remember the adage; monkey see, monkey do.
The first step is to monitor how much information the child is exposed to, through tv, social media or
conversations. Just because children never hear their parents say, “clean up your room” does not mean
they are not listening.
If you are waiting for your child to come to you with questions…good luck. Address that elephant in the
room, ask them what they have seen or heard. Fears can make imaginations run wild. Validate their
feelings because what is happening is scary. You can also be honest about your own fears as well.
Use terms that your child can understand. What is the point in having a conversation about war if you
are taking vocabulary out of the NATO handbook? Children understand words like hurt, sad, and angry.
Do not forget the older children in the household as well. They too have fears about the climate of the
world. Teenagers may not wake you up in the middle of the night with tales of the boogey man under
their bed, but their anxiety is just as real.
Addressing a teen’s fear may require a little more visualization. Take the time to sit down and watch a
newscast with them and answer questions. Honesty is still the best policy, if you do not know the
answer to a question, now is not the time to get creative. Your teen will respect that and you even
more, and together you can do some investigating to find out the answer.
Having an open dialogue with your children now can create a better relationship in the future. If they
see how you react to their feelings and are honest with your own feelings it will make it easier for them
to be open with you later in life. Communication is an important skill to teach your child that will benefit
them for years to come.
This can also be a time to help create a life lesson with your children. An act of service can help your
child not feel so helpless. Children love to help other children. They can donate toys that they no longer
play with, or clothes that no longer fit. There are local charities that may be able to send items over to
help with humanitarian aid. Teaching empathy can be done at every stage and every age.
If your child’s anxiety escalates or brings up a traumatic experience, you may need to reach out to a
mental health provider. The staff at Transform and Renew can help. A licensed professional counselor
can be beneficial to you or any member of your family in understanding or by providing tools that can
help when the world comes knocking on your door.
Staci Makela-Kerr, LPC Associate
Staci is supervised by Elizabeth Oldham, LPC-S. Staci is an Associate who is a parent, a writer, compassionate counselor who enjoys working with adults in all phases of life but has a deep passion for older adults facing life's challenges in the second half of life.
Elizabeth Oldham is an LPC-S and co-founder of Transform & Renew, PLLC. She specializes in co-dependency, anxiety and OCD, depression and mood disorders.