Should you shield them?April 16th, 2019
How to approach difficult, heartbreaking and traumatic subjects with your children.
Kids are like little sponges. They take it all in ... the good, the bad and the ugly ... and unless you have a total media ban in your home you wont be able to completely shield them from the atrocities that happen in the world. And I guess the question is, should you?
GUEST POST - Written by Sharon Turton
A few mums have asked me how they should speak with their children about the horrific attacks in New Zealand. Parents said they wanted to protect their kids by keeping the traumatic event from them. But, with the media overload it is so very hard to shield them from the enormity of what happened and the fear associated with it.
Kids are little sponges. They take it all in … the good, the bad and the ugly. Unless you have a total media ban in your home, and their friends homes, you wont be able to completely shield your children from the atrocities in the world. And, I guess this poses the question - Should you shield them ... and to what degree?
As a parent you have an important influence on your child. The way you react is a blueprint for how your child will react to such incidents. You, more than anything else, are the role model for your child. Your reactions programme your child to react in similar ways when such events happen in the future. Your child drinks in and learns from your emotional responses, your body language, your tonality and your energetic field. The words you use are only a relatively small part of what you communicate!
The words you use are only a relatively small part of what you communicate!
As parents it is important to recognise how we really react in front of our kids, when such traumatic events occur. It is a natural human reaction to be shocked and deeply upset by horrific events, and to feel the pain as it affects you in the moment. It is also ok for children to witness parents feeling their emotions and being ‘real’ … rather than wearing a mask and trying to hide them. Hiding emotions sends mixed messages. Kids are perceptive and they can often sense lurking, scary feelings and in turn sense that something is not quite right.
However, there is a big difference between feeling emotions authentically and freely in the moment. Compared to staying stuck in the anxiety, pain and helplessness of what happened. Reliving the story, over and over. Repeated exposure to the events in the media is not healthy for kids, nor is hearing stories of doom and gloom or projecting worry into the home environment. All of this leads to feelings of disempowerment and helplessness. It becomes a breeding ground for fear and anxiety in your child.
So, how do we respond healthily when such horrific events happen?
We are all wired differently depending on our past experiences and how this was modelled to us as children. You could feel upset, scared, angry, repulsed, helpless, terrified or a mixture of all of these … and more. These are all natural, normal human emotions and it is so important to allow them to be there if they arise, to feel them, to allow the body to experience them fully, so they can be processed healthily.
When your kids see you and sense you being authentic with your feelings it gives them permission to be that way themselves.
When your kids see you and sense you being authentic with your feelings it gives them permission to be that way themselves. Science and sages agree on the fact that if you are willing to sit in the pain of even your worst emotions, without making stories of blame or judgement in your mind, the feelings will pass through in about 30 – 90 seconds. You will then be left in a state of clarity and openness to be with your child, the way they really need.
It may be an opening to discuss the topic in an age appropriate way with your child. Acknowledge their feelings and thoughts, knowing that things happen that are out of our control. Rather than making disempowered stories of doom and gloom where an unknown threat is waiting just around the corner, let your kids see your deep compassion and empathy for the pain that has taken place. As well as your empowered conviction that this behaviour is not ok. Let your kids feel your inner strength in the knowing that they are safe and secure in their world.
As you refrain from making scary mind stories about what might happen, and instead take a few deep belly breaths … ground … and reconnect with your true self, you can then connect with your child in the love, safety and comfort of this precious moment.
This is true connection and the most healing, empowering, authentic and loving space for your beautiful child.
Sharon works with parents and kids to bring out the best in communication, connection and caring, even with tricky behaviours and special needs. As a leader in the field, she has been helping families for over 20 years as a clinical counsellor and journey therapist and has given talks and workshops around Australasia, supporting emotional intelligence and resilience. Her passion is to guide parents to a loving bond with their kids through effective and empathetic parenting practices.
Sharon is the author of 3 parenting books:
The Art of Peaceful Parenting
The Art of Taming TantrumsConnecting Kids – with their Inner Potential
You can subscribe to Sharon's newsletter and free ebook at www.sharonturton.com
Tags: author, children, education, mental health, parenting, psychology
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