Color & Control:

When bad things are happening

A note from the editor of Today's Kids.

For most families, it’s not been an easy few years. The stress of COVID and RSV-related illnesses has been extraordinary. Cancelled celebrations and loss of time with friends and relatives have taken there toll. On top of it all, our children are often exposed to terrible news from around the world, be it on TV, social media or in person. Frightening or sad events are difficult enough for adults to cope with emotions that come with the difficult loss of someone close like a parent, aunt or grandparent.  

After loss or tragic events, we are often left feeling helpless and wondering what to do. How can we possibly explain things to young children or figure out how to move on through the shock and potential grief?

Experts suggest that if possible, taking time together as a family is the right thing to do, talking with your children and teens sooner rather than later is recommended. After all, better they hear about what has happened from you than the media or the rumour mill, or other children on the playground or in the lunchroom.  

Wise advice also suggests you:

• Put other things aside: Spend quiet time sitting with each other, taking a few deep breaths and/or going for a nature walk.

• Trust is key: It’s important that your children feel they can count on you to keep them as safe as possible and that you’ll be there for them.

• Create time and plenty of space: It’s normal for all of you to feel sadness, anger, grief or vulnerability.

• Answer questions succinctly: If your child or teen ask you a question, be clear and provide a simple answer to exactly what they asked. Tell the truth. Don’t add extra details, embellish stories or use guess work when discussing the situation with them. It’s okay to say you don’t know the answer.

• Try to remain calm when you are talking: Remember, children will take their cues from the tone of your voice. If you’re anxious and scared they will be too.

This is certainly a time to ask for professional advice. It’s also a time to think about how grief might impact your child’s participation at school or elsewhere. In that spirit, we encourage you to read our article on Page 20 from Calgary’s Children’s Grief Centre called “When Grief Goes to School.” And, as the authors suggest, remember to take care of
yourself and make sure you’re getting the support you need. 

Caroline Tapp-McDougall, Editor

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