Summer use to be a time for children to be carefree, or at least for the lucky ones. A lot has changed, in what feels like a blink of an eye. From barely treading water from the effects of the pandemic, children are now trying to make sense of what they hear from media, the playground, and adults talking in the other room about children their age being killed in their schools. There is no parenting book on how to respond to the questions that young children will ask, but here are few suggestions:
- If your child asks questions, do not be quick to offer responses, pause and inquire further what your child thinks, or what they understand about a situation, before offering unnecessary information that could cause further distress.
- Be sure to use developmentally appropriate language when talking to your child; their academic ability does not equate to social emotional understanding.
- It is okay to tell your child that you do not necessarily know the exact answers, but you can tell them that they are safe in the moment and loved.
- Pay attention to your child for any signs of distress: withdrawal, irritability, regressive behavior, etc.
- Try to offer as much consistency and predictability in your child’s routine, as this in of itself is therapeutic.
Parents, teachers and even mental health professionals are doing their best when it comes to supporting the youngest effected by overlapping crises, but it is okay to need additional support and to ask for help.