Talking with kids about tragic news – Penn State Hershey Medical Center

Talking with kids about tragic news – Penn State Hershey Medical Center


>>It’s not possible to shield them from the
exposure to such a trauma but it is possible to shield the response. What you can do is
have them open up to you and ask questions and discuss with them about what they experienced,
what they feel like actually happened because younger children can have a very different
understanding of the event compared to older children or adults. However, avoiding the
question, avoiding the situation or avoiding talking about it is never helpful. That can
actually have a very detrimental effect. Younger children say, for example, 2 to 6 years of
age do not have a lot of understanding of what’s going on beyond their immediate world.
They have what we call in psychiatry an egocentric way of thinking. They feel like, you know,
the world revolve around them, anything that happens to them they feel like that’s what’s
happen to the world. So, if they watch something on TV and they feel like, you know, they’re
fearful or they’re anxious about something like that is gonna happen, they’re unable
to separate themselves from the real situation. They also have magical thinking so reality
and fantasy kind of keep getting mixed up. So you have to be a lot more careful when
you talk to that age children. As you grow up 11 onwards, you have a little bit of concrete
thinking, more logic developing, more reality testing which becomes more apparent. So, a
couple of things that you parents should remember if the child is showing any behavior which
is abnormal or different from their actual personality, there is something concerning.
Younger children can become very dependent. They can become clingy, they can have grind
spells, they can start to have nightmares or can have soiling or accidents. So, all
the children can have different behavior problems like aggression, sometimes agitation, irritability.
In certain cases, they can become very socially isolated and they would like to–they would
tend to avoid situations which can put them in danger. Some teenagers actually go to opposite
way and they can have highly impulsive behaviors. You know, they can go into substance abuse
disorders. They can start to become suicidal or they can have a level of anxiety which
is so much that they’re unable to function resulting in school refusal, dropping their
grades, inability to see future as a positive future. It becomes much more foreshortened
and negative. So all these things are concerning signs. If you feel like your child is going
through any of these, it is very important to seek help because the sooner you seek help
the lesser the likelihood of actually developing a full-blown psychiatric disorder. They can
receive the therapy or work with medication if it’s necessary.

One thought on “Talking with kids about tragic news – Penn State Hershey Medical Center

  1. The transcription has some mistakes, but overall it is a very good talk. She was one of our batchmates, studied at same medical college and she really inspires us to this day..

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