Helping kids cope with crime
As adults we know life can be unpredictable and when the unforeseen happens we call on our life experience and support networks to find a way through our trauma.
It’s also our job to provide the support, and share our wisdom and experience with the children in our care when difficult things happen.
This week our street has been filled with police cars, officers and forensic teams as a few houses away from ours has become a crime scene.This certainly falls into the unforeseen category of life events!
The children are understandably concerned and confused. They’re also intrigued and a little bit excited.
When a crime happens in your neighbourhood there are going to be questions and worries from children. Some children are open about their concerns, their distress is clear and parents can be available with hugs, chats and lingering bedtimes. Other children aren’t so obvious in their need for extra support.
They may be confrontational towards you or siblings, show a reluctance to go to bed, leave the house or be apart from you, and refuse to follow requests that would normally not be an issue.
You may notice a drop or rise in energy or noise levels and an inability to concentrate.
Parents are experts on their own children and will usually know what works well to calm them, but here are some tips from family therapist and registered psychologist Julie BurgessManning to help in unusual circumstances:
1 Retain routines; get up at the same time, go to bed at the same time, keep mealtimes, school routines, after school activities the same.
2 Turn media off, repetition of disaster scenes adds to anxiety.
3 Provide a calm and loving response; keep your adult worries away from children. If you are particularly upset get support from other adults you trust.
4 Keep normal disciplinary boundaries. If kids are breaking these, it is important that they know their parents are still in charge – the world is unpredictable enough without these changing.
5 Give reassurance but don’t overdo it. Too much reassurance means there is something to be worried about!
6 Creating stories about what happened can be useful for younger children.
7 Let them talk about it, but don’t let it take over, use distraction and play to get their minds off it.
8 Do the things that you and your children enjoy – distraction is a wonderful thing!
❚ Sarina Dickson is co-author of the Worry Bug resources for children, schools and families. Write your own reader report on stuffnation.co.nz HAVE YOUR SAY
Let us know what is happening in your street or community. Email email@example.com