Teaching children to understand

Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Picture: GETTY IMAGES

"I SIT with the children and tell them to really worry - to screw up their faces and worry as hard as we can," psychologist Shona Innes says. 

"I tell them, let's see if we can make a difference, if we can help anything by worrying. And when nothing happens, I say what a nuisance, we'd better not waste time worrying anymore."

Her comments come as many Bendigo parents struggle to know how to help their children understand the MH17 tragedy. 

As Ms Innes says, most adults cannot make sense of the disaster, let alone explain it to someone with limited understanding of death or war or world issues. 

And with savage images of the plane wreckage and talk of hundreds of lost lives plastered on the news, the coverage is hard for children to avoid. 

But Ms Innes says it's important to not censor the images from children, but rather explain the known circumstances and help them realise it is a rare occurrence.

She said the way parents and teachers reacted could affect the way children learnt about the world and coping when tragedies occur. 

She encouraged parents to screen images before they are seen by children, and turn off the news if the events are being replayed over and over. 

"It's about watching your kids, watching how they respond and helping them process it while also helping them realise it's not worth worrying about your daily life in Bendigo because of it," she said. 

"I would see what is age appropriate and say that there is a country fighting over who should be the boss and we are not sure why they shot this plane down."

She said anxious children would be more inclined to be impacted by the event, which was where stability was increasingly important. 

"If your child is truly distressed, it is a really important time to try to make life as predictable as it can be," she said. 

"If your child is sad, in a grieving kind of way, they might like to write about their feelings, draw a picture, light a candle or plant a flower or shrub in the garden.  

"It is perfectly okay to feel upset by upsetting events.

"But sometimes it's good to say, let's cook dinner or play a board game... To bring back the normality."

To read Ms Innes' blog about parenting, go to http://shonainnes.blogspot.com.au/

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