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Between a lead role on Nickelodeon’s Sam and Cat plus a string of major pop hits, Ariana Grande is a household name for kids, specifically young girls. That means there’s a good chance your little one may have heard about the tragic terrorist attack at Grande’s show in Manchester, England last night. While your gut reaction may be to shield her ears or turn off the news, experts say you might be better off talking to your kids about what happened.
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) released a statement today about how to handle the fear, sadness and shock that comes with a tragic, shocking event like this. Grande’s popularity among kids and tweens makes this a particularly sensitive issue. Whether you talk to your kid or try shielding her from the news, she’ll likely hear about it from peers at school, a potentially damaging alternative to you explaining what happened. Plus, in the age of social media, news travels fast to your kids’ social media feeds, phones and laptops.
Parents can manage their children’s anxiety by helping them feel safe, guiding their kids to express and deal with their thoughts and feelings and giving them the right context and information around the incident. Among the tips from the NASP are:
Monitor social media use to steer away from traumatizing images and words.
Maintain normalcy and routine as best as possible, while still adapting to your kid’s needs.
Let them know how people are helping the affected.
Make them feel secure in the fact that they’re allowed to feel and respond in any way they do naturally.
Remind them that terrorism in their community is a frightening possibility, but one of low odds.
Have age-appropriate convos with them (keep it brief and comforting for elementary kids, help middle schoolers consume facts and valid news, talk prevention with high schoolers, etc.)
Most importantly, keep an eye and ear out for bullying, harassment, anger and unfair judgment in your kid and their peers. It’s important to teach them not to judge entire groups of people for the actions of a few, along with reinforcing messages of hope and resilience.
For more helpful advice on how to talk to kids about terrorist attacks and other tragedies, go to the School of Social Work at National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement’s guide.