Tragedies in the news: how to deal with emotions and support your children

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Health Assured team

27 May 2022

Over the past couple of months, we’ve been exposed to heart-breaking news and shocking acts of violence that have sent ripples down people’s spines across the globe. The physical distance seems insignificant when we hear of the trauma, devastation, and distress that people and their families are experiencing. But the impact goes far beyond that of those directly involved. 

Maybe the shocking images and stories in the news have brought up something in your past, increased anxieties around your children’s safety or triggered stress about relatives living away from home. These reactions are understandable and normal; there’s no right or wrong way to feel about this kind of news.

Health Assured recognise the need for support during times like this. So we’ve provided some wellbeing tips to keep you going you during this time. We also understand that telling your children about these stories is both complicated and emotional. So we’ve provided some tips to help you do this too.

 

Taking care of yourself 

If you sense that events have stirred up some emotions in you like hopelessness, anger or sadness, then know that these feelings won’t last forever. It’s important to take care of yourself right now and think about what you need. Here are a few things you can do to help yourself.

 

Looking after the basics 

When going through any period of emotional distress, it's important to take care of the basics first. Make sure you are:

  • Eating a healthy balanced diet
  • Drinking 6-8 cups of water each day
  • Sleeping between 7-9 hours each night
  • Doing some kind of daily exercise (walking, yoga, swimming)

 

Talk to others about how you feel

Keeping emotions in can cause them to bubble up and intensify over time. Some people find that talking to someone they trust about their feelings helps them release tension and process difficult feelings. They might be able to rationalise or provide some reassurance to your worries and thoughts about what happened.

 

Seek help if you need it 

Don’t be afraid to seek help if you think you need it. The prospect of talking to your GP, a counsellor or a helpline service might be daunting. But these services are there to be used—and they can be extremely beneficial. By confiding in someone confidentially, you can truly open up about how you feel, and the professional can help guide you in the right direction.

 

Talking to children about violence in the news

As hard as it can be to have conversations about traumatic, violent events with our children—it’s necessary. It’s better to talk through events together, as they will likely consume the news from friends or technology either way. Yet this doesn’t make these conversations any easier.

There’s no perfect way to talk to children about devastating events like the ones we’ve seen over the past couple of months. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel like you’ve made a mistake. We can all make mistakes at times.

Below you’ll find some tips to help you talk through the events with your little ones.

 

Be a filter, not a shield 

Most children will be exposed to violent events through background news on the TV or radio, newspaper headlines, social media or playground stories at some point. So instead of trying to prevent this, it’s better to interact with your child and show your interest in discussing it with them if something crops up. 

Ask your child what they have heard and how they feel. Show them that you believe they have the strength to handle the situation and check in with them in the coming days.

 

Shaping their beliefs about the world

How can we shape our child’s view of the world in a helpful way in light of traumatic events?

Try to read news stories or media coverage with your child; it's better than them consuming this content alone.

When doing so, try to point out the people who have acted positively and helped others.

Remember that kids take things very literally. So avoid phrases like: “this happens all the time” or "this violence is never-ending”.

For more help explaining traumatic events like these to your children, please get in touch with Health Assured—we can support you.

 

Support from Health Assured is available 24/7

The Health Assured helpline is here 24/7, 365 days a year. You can contact us via the My Healthy Advantage App or the helpline.

Our counsellors are here to support you. They have experience dealing with trauma, anxiety, and family issues. They can help provide in-the-moment support and refer you for further help if you need it.

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