by Lauren Brabham (Growing Together Psychology)
On Monday night all major Australian television networks were broadcasting constant updates about the Sydney Siege. I am certain there were many little eyes and ears within viewing and hearing range. And if information wasn’t readily available at home, there was someone at school talking about it.
So what do parents need to know about the Sydney siege? And how can they make sure their children are not left feeling anxious or unsafe in the aftermath?
Young minds process events very differently to adult minds. Young children under the age of five years should be shielded from such events where possible. Developmentally they are not ready to process this type of information and make sense of it. With so many other means of gathering information at our fingertips parents should be switching off the TV when littlies are around, and instead turning to smart phones or the Internet for updates.
School-aged children will likely be hearing talk about these events at school, and will be more attuned to media coverage in the days and weeks post-event. This may leave them feeling anxious and threaten their feeling of safety. They may need some additional reassurance from parents that they are safe and that events like this occur rarely and in isolation. They may require extra hugs and verbal reassurance. Their feelings of sadness and confusion should be validated and normalised. Sharing your feelings about the event can help, “I feel sad and confused about what has happened too”. It is important to check in with children regularly to enquire about what they know and if they have any questions surrounding the event.
Lastly, parents need to be on the watch out for any changes in behaviour, for example changes to their eating or sleep habits, sore tummies or increased clinginess. If these behaviours worsen or persist it may be necessary to seek some professional assistance.
If you have any questions, or would like to check in with one of our Psychologists for assistance, please give our clinic a call on 9077 2275 to arrange an appointment.