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Talking to your child about Difficult Situations

A bedtime story

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone
As much as we would like to protect our children from this cruel world, the reality is, we can’t. So even if you don’t want to talk about the Boston marathon, or the shootings at Newtown, or the gun violence in Chicago, you really need to. Our children really do know more than we think. Their friends talk, their teachers talk, and they listen even when we think they are not listening. I would suggest that you have the hard conversation. Here are a few tips:
1. Ask your child what they know. This give you the opportunity to decide what you need to address and to what extent.
2. Use language that they understand. Be clear and concise in this conversation. No need for a lot of extras. Use age appropriate language.
3. Assure them of their safety. Although we can’t guarantee anything you can tell them that their school is safe, their family is safe and that you will do your best to protect them.
4. Remind them of the adults that are there to protect them, like teachers, principals, policemen, firefighters, etc.
5. Ask your child, if they have any questions. Again remember that they may have heard things and may be misinformed. This gives you the opportunity to clear up any information that may be false and/or scary for them.
6. Check in with your child regularly after you have this conversation. Each child may react differently. They may have nightmares, or scary thoughts, but you can be there to reassure them.

Do your best. We may not always get it right, but what is most important is that your child knows that you love them.