By Belinda Luscombe, Time, SouthFloridaReporter.com, Nov 15, 2015 – When terrible events happen, such as the attacks on Paris, parents’ immediate instinct is to shield their children from them. While this is perfectly natural, particularly as parents are probably having difficulty wrapping their heads around the events too, it may not always be the best approach, according to experts.
“Don’t delay telling your children,” says Harold Koplewicz, President of the Child Mind Institute. “It’s very likely that your child will hear about what happened, and it’s best that it comes from you so that you are able to answer any questions, convey the facts, and set the emotional tone.”
Figuring out what your child has learned and answering any questions they have in terms they can understand is usually the best approach.”By initiating this dialogue, and allowing and encouraging your children to express their feelings, you can help them build healthy coping skills that will serve them well in the future,” says Koplewicz.
It’s important to try and stay calm as you talk through the events. Children pick up their cues from their parents so if you act anxious they will be anxious.
Trust your instincts too. Kids vary in levels of anxiety, and vulnerability. You know your kid and what they can handle better than anyone.
Here’s an age by age guide to keeping the discussion developmentally appropriate.