Yesterday was a very difficult day that shook Ottawa residents to the core and reverberated around the world. While we would all like to get back to normal as soon as possible, it is understandable that the events of October 22 have deeply affected people. The Ottawa Carleton District School Board published a guide for ways to help communicate with your children about yesterday’s events, and we would like to help publicized and share these recommendations:
Children may be confused by what they have heard about what has happened in our city today. Most likely they will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children cope by listening, acknowledging and validating feelings and by being reassuring.Model calm and control. Children take their emotional cues from the significant adults in their lives.Limit exposure to media coverage. Images of a crisis can become overwhelming,especially if watched repeatedly. Adolescents may choose to watch the coverage- be available to discuss what they are watching and help them put it into perspective.Follow, don’t lead. Make time to talk, but don’t force discussion with children who don’t feel the need to discuss the issue. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient. Children do not always talk about their feelings readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes or other chores. Some children prefer writing, playing music, or doing an art project as an outlet. Young children may need concrete activities (such as drawing,looking at picture books, or imaginative play) to help them identify and express their feelings.Answer their Questions. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate – young children need brief, simple information that is balanced with reassurances that the daily routines of their lives will not change.Acknowledge and validate their feelings. Regardless of what emotion is being expressed, it is important for children to feel heard and believe that their feelings are accepted. As feelings are discussed, help children put their feelings into perspective.Monitor your own stress level. Don’t ignore your own feelings of shock, worry, anger,etc. Talk to your support people / your family and friends, counselor. It is okay to letyour children know that you too are surprised, confused, worried, saddened by what has happened. You are better able to support your children if you can express your own emotions in a healthy manner.Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that 2ttawa is a safe community and that home and schools are very safe. Review safety precautions and review a plan for whom to talk to about any concerns they may have.