Security Situation: Helping Children Deal with Fear
With the ongoing attacks of violence around the country, specialists at Schneider Children’s offer parents tips on how to deal with their children’s fears. Danny Lotan, Director of the Anxiety Clinic in the Department of Psychological Medicine at Schneider Children’s, says that in general, feeling pressure isnormal under the circumstances, and when parents display assurance and control alongside tension and anxiety, most children accept this with understanding. Additionally, he recommends the following steps:
Allow children to ask questions about the situation and express their fears. Tell them that their questions and fears are legitimate during these times and that their parent is not under pressure. Remember that children are more sensitive to the adult’s tone rather than what is actually said.
Avoid letting children watch the news since we are flooded with endless newsfeeds, pictures and opinions on the internet, mobile phone, newspapers and radio. This does not mean that the situation should be hidden from them, but prolonged exposure to constant distressing news and troubling photographs should be avoided.
Be prudent when providing information, and rather than say there is no danger at all or that everything will be 100%, it is preferable to say that everything possible is being done to deal with the present situation, and that the security services are making the proper decisions. If the child is particularly anxious, refrain from incessant reassurance as this might lead to increased fear. Explain that everyone is under some pressure at the moment and that the proper authorities are evaluating the situation all the time.
Maintain daily routines as appropriate. If the child asks to avoid any activity such as not going to an afternoon class, it is important not to accede. Tell the child that it is fine for him to be frightened, but activities should not be cancelled because fear should not control our lives. Promise him that you will be accessible by mobile phone or that you will take him to and from his class, but try to maintain normal daily routines.