Girl Scouts of the USA encourages adults to check in with girls and see how they are feeling, especially when they are inundated with disturbing images of hate and violence. Here are some tips on how to talk openly about the hate and violence girls are witnessing around the world and at home.
Admit what she saw was real: Most kids are smarter than we realize. They see through our well-meaning fibs. Children need to be able to trust their parents and caregivers.
Let her lead the conversation: Ask your daughter how she is feeling about recent events. Let her know violence is not the answer, and stereotyping any group of people based on isolated actions is hurtful and wrong. Check in with your girl at regular intervals to see how she’s feeling.
Provide stability: A solid routine can help kids of any age feel safe. Keep bedtimes and mealtimes as regular as possible. If you change plans, take the time to explain what’s happening.
Don’t be alarmed by regression: A child who isn’t usually afraid of the dark might want to keep the lights on. A child who hasn’t wet the bed might have an accident. Be a source of comfort and your child will likely go back to previous sleep habits soon.
Practice self-care: Stay calm and present enough to provide support for your child by making sure you’re taking care of yourself. Get enough sleep, practice breathing exercises and eat healthy foods so you can be your best self.
Know you can reach out: If you are worried that your child is not recovering from the trauma of recent events, talk to a counselor or psychologist or contact other leaders in your community for help. Getting treatment for a mental issue is just as important as getting treatment for other types of illnesses.
Watch what you watch (and what you say): Limit your own viewing. Adults also need to be careful what they say in front of kids, of all ages, and refrain from angry comments that might be misunderstood.
Most of all, take the time to give your daughter some extra love and support.
Deborah Hearn Smith, CEO
Girl Scouts of Central Indiana