Here at Access Psychology, we understand the concerns that follow a tragic event such as the shooting in Ottawa recently. Children and teens may worry that something bad will now happen to them, their family, friends or within their community. Acknowledge their feelings and then provide them with reassurance that you will keep them safe. Explain that there are also adults who work hard at their jobs of protecting all of us.
Limit your child’s exposure to media coverage of the event. Viewing images of natural disasters or traumatic events can have a negative impact on young children who have a hard time separating what they see on a screen from their own reality. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and fear that they are in immediate danger. If older children are watching media coverage, they would benefit from watching it with an adult who can answer their questions and interpret what they are hearing and seeing.
Avoid adult conversations about the event in front of your child. However, do answer questions they may ask, providing them with information that is appropriate for their age.
Make a point of focusing attention on the good things that are happening in our country and in their community. Point out examples of people performing good deeds, lending a helping hand and offering help to others.
Encourage your child to continue with their regular routines and not to fear going to public places. Pay attention to changes in your child’s behaviour and if worries begin to impact their daily life, seek professional help.