Children unfortunately will be exposed to violent events and maybe even be the immediate victims of violence. In either case, it is critical for caregivers/educators to support the children’s ability to cope with, process, and overcome the event or experience. There are several approaches which can be employed to help children. Fred Rogers, better known as Mr. Rogers, famously recommended that caregivers/educators guide children to look for helpers during times of crisis, such as nurses, firefighters, and police. I think this serves as a neutralizing effect to the ‘bad’ people responsible for the event. Other resources suggest discussing feelings – not just the children’s feelings but also their caregivers/educators’ feelings. The children need to know what I am feeling, so that the children know it is okay to feel what they feel; this helps them process their own feelings. A third tip for dealing with such events is being prepared. Though violence and crisis are often unpredictable, having some sort of plan or guidelines in place prior to such events can help me remain calm and therefore help the children stay calm, too. A fourth tip which is also good is sticking to normal routines. This can provide familiarity during times of distress which can facilitate a quicker return to normalcy. Maintaining familiar patterns of behavior and routines can also serve as a neutralizing and/or an anchoring effect for the distressing event. This would apply to both me and the children. A fifth tip pertains to media exposures. While it may be difficult to completely shield children from media coverage of violent events or crises, I can mitigate the impact of media coverage and its potential confusing or distressing effects by minimizing children’s exposure. I should also be prepared to answer children’s questions about what they might see. Even if children do not mention anything they’ve seen in the media, avoiding it can be confusing, so I should carefully engage children about the event and give them a chance to express their feelings or explore the event.
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