Conversations with Your Child

Conversations with Your Child

This week's incident at Bondi with the associated news headlines and images can be upsetting, and can evoke many strong emotions including fear and anxiety. Engaging in conversations with your child/ren can help their understanding and process their emotions.

To help you navigate these conversations, our School Counsellor, Catherine McKersie, suggests the following:

- Choose a time and location to raise the topic naturally, to help your child feel comfortable to talk openly and honestly with you.

- Avoid talking about the topic at bedtime.

- If your child raises the topic with you first, give them time to express their thoughts and listen to their concerns.

- If you feel the place or time is not appropriate, reassure your child that it is a conversation you would like to have with them so you can understand their thoughts and feelings, and agree upon a time and place to have the conversation.

- When having the conversation, ask your child what they already know and how they are feeling about this. Some children know very little or they may have formed a different picture of the situation than you have.

- Be mindful of the child's age, personality and experiences as you approach the conversation with them.

- For younger children, messages should be short and clear. Questions they may have should be addressed directly and simply at a level they can understand. Be careful not to over-explain the situation or go into too much detail as this can make children unnecessarily anxious.

- What has taken place is an emotive topic, however, try to stay calm. Children will often adopt the feelings and opinions of their caregivers. If you are worried or upset about the situation, chances are your child will be as well.

- Validate your child's feelings and show empathy and compassion. When children have the chance to have an open and honest conversation about things upsetting them, it can create a sense of relief and safety.

- Children may express fears so they can be reminded that they are loved, cared for and protected. It never hurts to let them know that keeping them safe is your priority. Provide reassurance to children and that they can come and speak to you if they have more feelings or concerns.

- As well as their own personal safety, children may be worried about the wellbeing of their family, peers, and other adults in their lives (e.g., extended family, teachers, neighbours, coaches). Studies have shown that when we are helping others, we improve our coping and reduce our distress. To support children who want to help, you can provide them with ideas on what they can do - such as praying for people who have been impacted, donating to specific charities, this may help them at this time.

- Try to be conscious of what children are viewing on screens in relation to media reports of the incident. Watching images that are distressing repeatedly can be traumatising for children and adults alike.

- In discussions about the incident at Bondi Junction the issue of mental health may arise. It is important not to use mental health issues as the reason for this happening as only creates stigma and fear around mental health issues. It can be helpful to explain that many people will experience mental health issues and never cause harm to another person.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you require support. Claremont is a united, compassionate and caring community, and we are here to support and strengthen one another.

I pray that all our families have peace, and feel safe, loved and comforted.

Larissa Cameron, Acting Principal