Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
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This information was written by my former co-teachers. There was more, but I thought it might be too long for online. Hope this helps.
Keep young children away from media images of Violence, War and suffering.
Children simply do not have the experience to process some of the unthinkable graphic images that the News will portray. The emotional impact of such pictures are long lasting and fear inducing. Paradoxically, the “play by play” approach of modern media has also de-sensitized us to the suffering induced by these distant events- it seems unreal to even those of us who have endured violence first hand. Get your news away from children’s eyes and ears. Be aware of your conversations in front of children, including phone conversations where they hear only one side. They DO pay attention, even when you think they aren’t.
Be the “open door” that children need to field the questions they will inevitably have.
Children, even when kept from the media bombardment of news, will sense the feelings of those who care for them. Pretending that everything is normal when you are fearful, angry, sad, depressed, worried or upset only confuses children. They will inevitably hear bits of the war from others. If no answers are forthcoming from the adults, children make up their own-, which can be even more frightening than what is truly occurring. Acknowledge your own feelings and opinions. Allow them theirs by actively listening, asking questions for clarification, and answering questions based on the child’s age, experience and needs.
Let the Children “play” it out.
Children use play as therapy, fear-facing and gaining control. As we adults turn to each other to talk and debate, or we take action by protesting, signing petitions, sending donations, signing up for the military, making emergency supply kits- children take action by playing out the themes in the society that surrounds them. Don’t change family values or boundaries- but within those allow children to play out what they are feeling or thinking. This can include drawing and painting, dictating stories, playing with friends or action figures, or even building and destroying what was built.
Convey love and reassurance as best you can.
Children need to know they are loved, and that someone will always care for them. They need to feel routines and everyday life are as undisrupted as possible. They are trying to make meaning of what is so difficult to understand. If you are a family that takes action, explain to children your actions. If you are a family that needs to use home as a “denial” refuge from the outside world, explain that the war stops at the door. If you have spiritual beliefs use these to outline your behaviors and yearnings to your children.