Four months after the attacks in Paris in November 2015, Belgium was the target of a wave of attacks. Whether the images passing loop on the television, the headlines or discussions with teachers and peers at school, children are directly exposed to these tragedies. But how to find the words to tell them about such events? How to answer questions, sometimes innocent? The child psychiatrist Stephane Barbas enlightens us.
These dramas are relayed repeatedly on TV, shocking ages. In these moments, sadness and grief are two feelings that children may have, just like adults, although in the first place, it is the emotion that predominates. A question arises: how to talk about such events with younger? First, it is essential to take a step back before speaking to small. And because, after such events, adults can themselves be overwhelmed by a feeling of stress. It is better to talk to adults before addressing children. As stated Stéphane Barbas, “it is not to hide what we feel. The fear exists, it is normal. Parents can always think of a third person and possibly a psychologist even for a transitional aid “.
The parents also used to talk among themselves, indifferent to their children around them. However, it is essential to pay attention to these young passive listeners. When addressing them, we must pay attention to the words we use, which is not the case same as discussing with adult.
Adapt your speech depending on the child’s age.
The first thing to consider is of course the age of the child. “For children, it is important to say things as simply as possible, do not be overwhelmed by the flow of emotion,” says child psychiatrist Stephane Barbas. “Obviously, we cannot be completely detached, but it is important to speak calmly, without going into heavy detail. We must also name the emotions and help children sort through the flood of information. It is important to explain things. And because the child has a different perception of time, distance and space than adults. “For him, his environment is his home. It is important to reassure him by saying that this threat does not concern him. We can then say that war is at outside, with ‘ other countries”.
The more complicated is certainly respond to the most mundane questions like “why did they do that?”. If the little ones are having much more Manichean perception of the Gentiles, and being wicked is an opportunity to explain to the larger things, the reason is that people act in criminal ways for a cause. Obviously, it is difficult to answer this question perfectly and find the right words. You must therefore remain as simple as possible, “the child psychiatrist.
Dr. Barbas advises parents that keep them away from smaller pervasive political speeches, they can still evoke the notion of justice, very important for children. “Beware, justice does not mean revenge,” said the specialist. “We can tell them that the guilty will be punished, but it does not necessarily mean going to take revenge.”
Listen how the children felt?
Older children, 7-8 years and more, often have their questions “that needed to be answered carefully,” the Doctor Barbas. Indeed, these questions can echo some concerns, so have specific resonances specific to the child. This may awaken some fears. “It is essential to reassure them, to be more present, especially at bedtime, without overdoing it, they fears the risk of actually being in insecurity,” explains Stephane Barbas.
After a traumatic episode recounted on television, children can also have nightmares. “These are of course signs of their distress, but also attempts to develop and channel like any dream. It is in itself is not negative. The child must face to the anguish of his own answers whether in his internal world by representation of the world (the good guys against the bad guys, tolerance), “says the specialist.
Moreover, as pointed out Dr. Barbas, do not forget the teenagers: “They were hard hit during the attacks, everything they love has been the target of these attacks (football, music, outings). all this can have an impact on them, all this “information overload.” It is important to talk to than them by addressing further questions, most policies.
Explain emotions to the children.
In a statement, released just days after the attacks in November 2015, the AFPA (French Association of Ambulatory Paediatrics), indicated that if the child is silent it does not mean he has not seen or felt anything. “Silence can be installed when the adult himself is shocked or taken by his own emotions. This silence will potentially have a different impact in the child. The child can then imagine being responsible for emotion from their parents, they cannot understand why their parent is so destabilized “. Hence the importance of explaining these emotions to children, sadness or anger, always with simple, measured words.
Keep children away from screens.
Instead of the talking, image is also important. “we realized the weight traumatic images passing loop”. We must therefore protect children from live violence. “This is real. The emotions are then more complicated to manage, these images can cause a morbid fascination,” says the specialist. A fascination which can also scare children “The child’s parents must have the wisdom to cut the outset of TV for young. If they watch TV then after a few minutes explain it to them immediately. These explanations must be repeated later with the children to decipher, analyse and discuss what they learned and understood. ”
Try to Divert the Mind of Children.
Some children, living near where the attacks were held to have heard the sirens, screams, feel the panic around them. How to talk does not have to be different. Even it is more important to discuss. The design may allow children to express their emotions. The biggest will then bring them on places of meditations. Indeed, “involve children in rituals that seem important to us (as an adult) can be a good thing,” says Stephane Barbas. “I also encourage Muslim families, which unfortunately have the risk of being victims of amalgam and also to talk with their children. To talk of religion will be appropriated. It is the opportunity for all families to address the issue of tolerance and forbids violence. Parents must be carriers of these values.
After such events, it is essential that the life of the child continues as before. “Even it is normal that signs of anxiety present for a few days.” Finally, if anxiety signs persist beyond a few days, it is recommended to hire a professional.
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[image Source: goodtherapy.org]
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