“With all the violence and natural disasters in the media today my children are constantly afraid. How can I talk to them about these things and help to ease some of their anxieties?”
Children often have the propensity to miss the points we are trying to make in conversation.
Ultimately, the responsibility for appropriate communication lies on the shoulders of the adult. Being conscious not to color our language with a multitude of descriptions and information can go a long way when talking to our children. A short, simple response to a child’s question keeps their attention exactly on what they are asking and minimizes the potential for confusion and random tangents. Granted, concise responses may lead to your child asking a number of other questions, but this will reduce the potential for offering more information than what your child is asking for.
With the onset of adolescence typically comes the development of abstract thought.
Prior to this developmental stage, children require much more concrete information in order to follow conversation and fully comprehend what you are trying to communicate to them. Familiarizing yourself with basic developmental stages can significantly improve the quality of your communication with your children. While this is significant for communication across the board, it is of primary importance when dealing with the delicacy of any traumatic event, whether it’s first hand experience or exposure via the media.
Nick Hersey, LAMFT, LAPC