All children will be aware of world events and violence. It is not possible to shield them from the extensive media coverage of violence, conflict, terror and war. Children do not always understand time or place and may be very worried that harm may happen to them, but not be able to express complex feelings . It is important too look out for changes in children's behaviour to suggest that they are unsettled or distressed. These changes can be nightmares, anxiety at sleeping alone, irritability or anger, withdrawing, questions about death and dying, tantrums and wanting to stay close to a parent or becoming more clingy.


Suggestions to help depend on the age of the children from the Australian Psychological Society include:


- monitor media exposure. Try to reduce exposure to repeated images of frightening events by limiting the amount of time spent watching media coverage of terror and tragedy, particularly graphic interviews with distressed witnesses or intense commentators. If children are watching media stories of distressing events, try to watch with them to bring an adult perspective and allow discussion about the material in a caring and reassuring way.


- listen and try to understand how children are feeling and thinking. Welcome and invite questions from your child about news events and be curious about their thoughts, opinions and feelings in relation to the event. Let the child know that it is normal to think and feel the way they describe, expect the same questions repeatedly as they try to make sense of events. Correct any misconceptions the may have about the risks and events


- provide opportunities to express their feelings, particularly through play rather than words.


- reassure. Children need comfort, reassurance and support and to know that they are safe and nothing bad will happen to them. Remind them that many people are working hard around them to make sure everyone is safe. Do calming activities with distressed children and reassure them that you are looking after them, providing plenty of affection through cuddles and hugs. allow them to be more dependent on you for a while. Keep good routines, Predictable family activities are very reassuring to children.


- shield the children from in-depth adult discussions about the events. Children can distort what they see and hear, especially when overheard and indirect


- pay attention to your own reactions. Children take cues on how to respond from the adults around them and may respond to anxieties and expressed . Talk privately with trusted adults if you are needing to air your own feelings. Share your feelings with children , but show that you are in control of them. You do not have to have all the answers, nor how to change the world , but if children know that you are talking with them, they will not feel alone.


- avoid stereotypes, narrow views of the problem, disaster or crisis and blaming whole groups for the actions of a few.


- help children see that their world is mostly a safe place, people are good and try to give them a feeling of security and hope.


If your child is feeling scared and vulnerable, they can contact The Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or see

a helpful video for children on "helping you to feel better again" is available on the abc website for Behind The News

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