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How To Speak To Your Kids About The Ariana Grande Tragedy

Child psychologist's tips

How To Speak To Your Kids About The Ariana Grande Tragedy

The tragedy that is unfolding in the UK today has quickly started trending on all social media platforms, and is quickly making its way onto the devices and into the lives of Australian kids. 

The big challenge for parents, today, is how to deal with it... ban news coverage from the house altogether? Or tackle the conversations head on?

We asked child psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack from the Australian Psychological Society for some advice. 

"I think that we really need to start with what they already know. They would have heard it on the grapevine or have read it on social media, so find out what they know to start with." 

"Let them know that you are available to talk to them about however they're feeling."

Sally-Anne says avoiding news coverage altogether is sometimes unavoidable. 

So.. once we know what they know, what should we do?

  • ASK WHAT THEY WANT TO KNOW

"Sometimes they really just want to know if they're going to be safe, and if their friends and family are going to be safe."

  • REASSURE THEM ACCURATELY AND FACTUALLY

"No lying. No making things up"

"Give them the facts. Say to them 'this was very far away, we have safety procedures in place, we make sure things like that are less likely to happen here"

  • DON'T AVOID THE DISCUSSION

"Particularly with the older ones, they're going to hear it anyway."

"Don't avoid the topic particularly if they've raised it, but we also don't need to over-share. Sometimes it is just as simple as them wanting to know that they're safe so we don't need to go into the elaborate information of what's happening or how many people are injured or have died. Keep it simple, but don't avoid the questions either"

  • THINK ABOUT WHAT ACCESS THE CHILD HAS TO THE INFORMATION

"For some of them, I would actually suggest to avoid the news broadcasts on television because you get a visual and that visual of situations is actually what they can keep replaying in their heads. If you give them the facts and the information that they need to know then you're informing them, probably reassuring them and you're not giving them any kind of trauma where they see it and perhaps feel it" 

"When it's in your lounge room, it sort of feels like it's happening to you or around you so for the younger ones in particular, you should avoid the television news broadcasts"

  • CHECK IN WITH THE CHILD REGULARLY: 

"Check in that the answers have satisfied them. Make sure that you haven't just fobbed them off."

"Also, check in again later to make sure that they have understood and processed the information in the way that you'd hoped they would"

Sally-Anne says there are tell tale signs for when a parent should start seeking extra help for a child: 

"I think if they start withdrawing or any change in behaviour, or if they're talking a lot about death or dying or their future not being bright or even the fear of someone might hurt me, or kidnap me, or kill me, or any of those things, then you possibly need to talk to your GP and get a referral to a psychologist or some other mental health professional" 

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