“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?”
Imaginations are a fascinating aspect of childhood. Most toys are created with the emphasis of creating an opportunity to use one’s imagination. Even still, the packaging for many toys can be just as entertaining for some children as they explore and develop their cognitions.
We as parents strive to create opportunities for our children to utilize their imaginations.
Because imaginations flourish throughout childhood we can expect the potential for outlandish ideas to evolve. With that however, unless ideas develop that raise anxiety or otherwise impede your child’s overall functioning there’s no cause for alarm.
Letting your child fill in the blanks when it comes to trauma in the media can be a touchy area. Generally speaking, it is usually best to allow children the opportunity to fill in the blanks. But it is a wise parent who ceases the moment to ask enough pointed questions to gain a sense of what their children are thinking.
Don’t offer too much information about a traumatic event.
Doing so may ultimately be traumatic in and of itself. Give just enough information to satisfy your child’s curiosity and allow them to do the rest.
Don’t be afraid to ask them what they’ve come up with though. It can often be helpful, and sometimes necessary, to correct some of their assumptions. But you won’t know what your child is thinking unless you ask.
Nick Hersey, LAMFT, LAPC