How to Talk to Toddlers & Preschoolers about Death & Disaster
What to say when the unthinkable happens
Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia Tech massacre, 9/11 … the list of world disasters from the past few years is long, and their commemorations mean they resurface as times of despair for children, including those that aren’t directly tied to the event. Should you talk about these events, too?
Not necessarily, says Dr. Schreiber—and what’s more, you should limit their exposure to the disturbing media coverage of these events.
“Research from 9/11 shows that watching TV contributes to ongoing psychological risk, and children in this very young age group may be at a particularly high risk—when images are replayed on TV, the child may actually think each replay is a new event, which can cause them an enormous amount of stress,” says Dr. Schreiber. “I don’t think there is a need to talk about these things with your very young child, unless they are asking questions or expressing confusion.”
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