Edgewood Blog

Ask The Edge Expert: July 2017 “Bonus Edition”

Posted on: June 29, 2017

 This month we have a “bonus” for you! Not just one Expert but TWO Edge Experts! Each blog covers a different topic so relevant in our world right now. The first blog, written by Jennifer Forbes LMFT, discusses talking to our children about traumatic events. Adults struggle with understanding these events, let alone how can we expect our children to understand them. She gives some wonderful talking points.

July 2017

Featured Expert: Jennifer Forbes, LMFT

How do I talk to my kids about traumatic events

 

Breaking News… Manchester Bombing, 22 Dead and 59 hurt in suicide bombing. Breaking News… Video of Police Killing is Publicly Released.

Traumatic events are broadcasted on the news, discussed at school, at work, and among friends and family. They are very sensitive subjects as they evoke different responses in different people. So, what do parents do when their child hears or sees things about terror attacks, police shootings, or a traumatic event?

I would recommend parents take A.C.T.I.O.N.! First, for themselves, and then for their child. It is like the flight attendant tells you when you are on a plane, “In case of an emergency, apply the oxygen mask, first to yourself, and then to your child.” The same thing applies here. When tragedy strikes, these A.C.T.I.O.N. steps can help you and your child process what has occurred:

A – Acknowledge the Emotion

C – Consider why you have it

T – Talk it out

I –  Identify what you are grateful for

O – Outward expression of kindness

N – Nurture self/child

Below are some practical ideas on utilizing the A.C.T.I.O.N steps:

A – Acknowledge the Emotion

Sometimes it is difficult to determine, even for adults, how we feel. Identify the emotion you feel (i.e. fearful, angry, worried). You can google ‘emotion faces’ and have your child pick the emotions they feel about the incident that is being discussed.

 

C – Consider why you have it

Once the emotion is identified, ask, “where is this feeling coming from? What have I heard or seen? Why do I feel fearful, angry, worried?”

T – Talk it out

Talk with a spouse, a friend, a parent, or a therapist. You can even journal! Whatever allows you to express your thoughts and feelings externally. Parents, ask open-ended questions. Talk it out while playing a game. Utilize art by having them draw a picture of what they have been hearing or seeing and discuss it.  For children, puppets can help with expression.

Also, during this time, you want to clarify any items that they may have misunderstood or reports that may not be inaccurate that can be exacerbating their emotions.

I – Identify what you are grateful for

Take a moment to express gratitude and thankfulness for people or situations that may be related or unrelated to the incident. Let your children know the things that you appreciate about them. Call friends and family and say thank you. Reflect on your own life and things that you are grateful for.

O – Outward expression of kindness

Ask, is there anything we can do to assist in the situation? Children can be very creative and this allows them to feel a sense of control for something that may have been out of their control. Ideas might include, allowing your child to donate to a charity, write a letter, draw a picture, pray for the situation or people affected and/or volunteer.

N – Nurture self/child

During time of tragedy or trauma we all need extra reassurance and comfort. Ensure to take time to nurture yourself and child. Ideas might include increasing uninterrupted time in play, quality time with child or participating in an activity that decreases stress.

Also, limit your time/child’s time on social media, watching the news, and reading about the traumatic events, especially, if you see behavioral and emotional changes after exposure.

As parents, we want to ensure that we know where we stand and how we feel, so we can best support our children on these issues. A.C.T.I.O.N creates a healthy way to have dialogue about difficult issues and reinforces a supportive family context.