Children often hold vs. share their thoughts and feelings. So adults shouldn’t assume their children aren’t thinking about Paris because they’re not talking about it.
It is critical to set aside family time after any tragedy. The more time together, the greater chance of having a meaningful conversation.
Psychologist Paul Coleman and author of Finding Peace When Your Heart Is in Pieces, was interviewed often this week about how to talk with children about the Paris tragedy. He says it is naive to expect a blanket statement such as “Don’t worry – nothing to will ever happen to you” to be helpful.
What is possible vs. what is probable
Psychologist Michael Yapko agrees with Coleman about how best to confront anxiety over future uncertainty: consider the difference between what is possible and what is probable.
How do you explain this concept to a young child?
You might say, “It is possible something like Paris could happen but it isn’t likely.” Nothing has happened in our community like this before, and it isn’t likely that it ever will. But if there is an emergency this is what you should do.”
Continue from there to give them a plan: who should they listen to; who do they call if they have a phone, etc. Creating a plan is engaging and will give them a sense of power.
What I have suggested above is only part of longer conversations that need to take place.