The last few days have been tragic and shaken all of us. As parents we ensure that we do everything to keep our children safe, however, incidents like the recent one may affect them adversely. So how do we handle this ?
Aparna Samuel Balachandran answers some very relevant questions regarding this
Question 1- A lot of moms wondering if we can discuss this with our kids. How do we let them know?
As parents, we are shocked, outraged, scared for the safety of our own children and deeply saddened for the victim’s family. When we send our children off to school every morning, we take it for granted that we will pick them up soon from the bus stop. However, tragedies like this hit us at our core- it reminds us of our deepest unthinkable fear- the tragic sudden loss of our child
But, we cannot protect our children in an emotional bubble. We need to talk to our children- as they will find out and then we have no control on what they will hear. So, yes please do discuss it with them. However, I would suggest that depending on the age and personality of your child, see how much and what to share. For older children [above 9 years]- start with asking them what they have already heard/seen. What questions they have. Do not share graphic details with them. Please put off the TV and control how much and what they are seeing. For younger children [ages 5 -8], keep it more black and white, keep it very simple. No images at all. Hug them/hold their hand as you talk to them. They need to feel your physical comforting presence and be reminded that they are safe in their immediate world.
Question 2- I discussed the incident with my child. He is very scared to enter public restrooms. How to handle this?
All our children need reassurance. When they hear something like this that happens to someone close to their own age and in school or in a bathroom [ where one would assume privacy and safety] it raises a lot of frightening questions in their minds. It is normal for them to over relate to the incident. They might be thinking- Am I safe? Will something like this happen to me?
When you talk to your son, do not be fatalistic in your words or body language. As your anxiety will overspill onto him. Instead, tell him in a confident and reassuring manner that tragic incidents like this are more an exception than the rule. Though, yes it has happened, it is not an everyday occurrence. Also, when your son does go into a public bathroom, keep talking to him from the outside. So, he can hear your voice and know you are there. Also, remind him that all schools will now actually take more precautions to make sure all their students are safe and protected. So, he should not be fearful of going to school or any bathroom.
Question 3- Any other parenting advice?
Be aware of your own emotions– As parents, we need to be purposeful of what we say in front of our kids and how we act. While we must be as honest with our children, we also need to use our practical sensibilities while sharing about this incident. We should avoid being very negative and extreme in our words for example in the presence of our children we should not make exaggerated statements like ‘no one is safe in schools nowadays or Gurgaon is the murder/rape capital of India'
Acknowledge the good– as we are bombarded by all this evil in the world we need to also acknowledge to our kids [and to ourselves] of the good in this world. While this is not to negate or minimize the justifiable sadness and anger we should feel, it is important to also remind our children of the good of humanity, the good in others and in ourselves. Take action to overcome this feeling of helplessness- be it lighting a candle or saying a prayer with your child for the victims family.
Questions answered by
Aparna Samuel Balasundaram
Co-Founder and Chief Service Officer.
The Lighthouse Organisation
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