By Marianne Lagutaine MA (ATh) MA (Coun)
These are challenging times in the world and especially in Hong Kong, where disruption dominates the news cycle, and upsetting images and videos are becoming more commonplace.
Witnessing acts of violence in our own city touches us deeply as humans and also affects us in our role as parents. Last night my children were loudly wondering why they were sent home from school early. The reactions around our dinner table ranged from “Yay, no strings! ” from my middle son, to a my older teenage boy, who shrugged and said, “Ugh, the protests”, to my youngest, who said, “But mummy, why are they setting people on fire?”
How do you explain to children, in an appropriate way, what is going on?
Ignoring what is happening around us is not an option. As a therapist and a parent, I decided in our family to emphasize a learning perspective, and use it as an opportunity.
Consciously limit the amount of news images you and your kids are exposed to.
Take care of yourself. So you are calm and able to react considerately.
Keep existing routines and structure to provide stability to your children.
Listen to your children. Ask them questions to understand their concerns better.
Process creatively. Let your children draw out their fears or write a story about it.
Process through play. Provide your kids with opportunity for unstructured play.
Behavioral changes, withdrawal, regression, changes in sleep, poor concentration, changes in appetite, crying and tearfulness, trouble going to school, irritability, excessive watchfulness, increased fearful reactions, moodiness.
All of the above are possible signs of distress. If they do not abate after a few weeks, you might want to consider talking with a professional to get further help and support. Contact the BFDC if this is the case.