Helpful tips on speaking about trauma with your kids

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 12:08 pm

In light of the recent terror attack in New Zealand, which tragically took the lives 50 Muslims gathering at Mosques in Christchurch, the conversation about how to communicate moments of trauma with your family arose.

So, how do you talk to your children about traumatic events? Chances are, if you have the news on at home, or are listening to the radio, your kids are going to hear about what has happened.

In the age of social media, where everything is instant, it is becoming increasingly harder to shield kids from these events. Even if you have succeeded at this, you can’t stop another child at school from telling your kids.

The reality is, parents aren’t that good at discussing trauma with kids. This isn’t a criticism, but rather an exposure issue. Events like Christchurch don’t happen often, nor do we desire them to in exchange for up-skilling our traumatic discussions.

What is more, each of your children will be at a different age, and will ask different question of parents.

Jodii Maguire from Think! Performance Psychology, joined Kirste and Morro on Brekky this morning to offer some helpful tips on discussing trauma with your kids.

Letting them know they are safe

It is important to assure your children that they are safe. Communicate to them that this event happened somewhere else. This settles some of the fear they have, particularly young kids who will interpret it as something that has happened out of their own front door.

Understand how much information they need

Don’t alter the way you communicate information to your kids. Use language that is in line with your family’s value and language set so that it feels normal for them. Help them to understand that the world is still a good place, and sometimes these events occur, but they’re not everyday occurrences.

 Help as a family

Discuss as a family what you can do to help. This gives the children and the family an element of control over the situation. For example, a number of families decided to pick some flowers and head to the local mosque to pay their respects. This gives yourself and your kids some comfort, moving forward together as a family. Don’t commit to things that you can’t do or are not comfortable with, because that speaks to the authenticity of your family values.


Listen to the full interview with Jodii Maguire below:

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