Thursday, 23 June 2016

Helping Your Child Cope With The Fear Of Visiting Orlando

I am writing this from the perspective of being an ex psychiatric nurse, a blogger and most importantly a mum.

Recently I was in Orlando when the mass shooting in the Pulse nightclub happened that shocked the world. The nightclub was only 9 miles from where myself and my family were staying.

Only a day earlier a female singer that was on the America's version of The Voice, Christina Grimmie was murdered in Orlando after her concert. A couple of days after the Pulse nightclub shooting an alligator snatched a little boy in the grounds of the Disney Grand Floridan hotel and a mass search went underway. The poor little boy was found dead later in the lake around the resort.

There is so much sadness and death in the world and it's perhaps more poignant that all this happened in Orlando - the land of smiles, where 'dreams come true', and families go to spend time together visiting the many attractions including the Disney and Universal theme parks.


The Orlando Eye in rainbow colours to stand in solidarity for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting


I recently read an article when I was still in Florida in a local newspaper talking about ‘Orlandophobia’. Psychiatrists are seeing a rise in children being scared to go on holiday there. So how do you explain to children these incidents and reassure them to help allay their fears?

I don’t think the answer is to shield children from the atrocities that goes on in the world, they will find out information from television, newspapers, social media and talking to their friends. The key I think is to talk to children about these events and answer the questions truthfully in an age appropriate language they can understand. You do not need to go into incredible detail with little ones, just explain the facts simply and reassure them that these incidents are extremely rare and you will do your utmost to protect them. Alligators rarely attack people , and it's important to point this out for example.


The concept of good versus evil can also be discussed. 
On a simple level if you are talking to a young child about good versus evil, you could apply it to a favourite book such as Matilda, Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets, or a film such as Star Wars, Snow White, or The Lion King.


If the child is a teenager, and emotionally mature, discussions about nature vs nurture can be explored. Are people really born evil or are they made evil? Circumstances can no doubt shape people - those that commit horrendous crimes often have a background of abuse, and are made to see and do atrocious things, however the majority of others who have experienced such things come out the other side with compassion, empathy and a love for other people.

In all these discussions, it’s incredibly important to focus on the fact that although there are bad things that happen in the world, these are thankfully rare and are outweighed by many good things that happen too. Good things that happen don’t always make headline news and I think that is important for children to know this to gain some perspective on world events.

You may also want to limit access to the media in times of great atrocities like the Pulse nightclub shooting. Due to today's constant 24 hour news, it may seem like you can’t get away from reports of the shooting and that may cause heightened anxiety with children especially. Simply turning the TV over and finding something more uplifting can and will help.

At the end of the day, I feel it's important to impart the ethos that you should try and not live in fear as then the 'bad' people would have won.

Let me know if you have had to talk to your children about events like these. Do you have any advice for parents of children in these circumstances?
SHARE:

30 comments

  1. I don't have kids so I can't really comment. Bad things can happen anywhere though and if we let fear get to us we wouldn't go out anywhere x

    ReplyDelete
  2. My eldest is 12 and he's asked a lot of questions about, Orlando is in the media a lot lately here in UK and trying to explain it to him is hard. Bad things happen and there's nothing we can do about it :( It's so incredibly sad :( I think limiting access to media is probably for the best at times like this. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree that limiting access to media can help to reduce anxiety.

      Delete
  3. I can't imagine the thoughts that go through the minds of children and it is harder still to pretend you are 100% okay with the world as an adult x

    ReplyDelete
  4. No, we can't let fear control our lives or we wouldn't achieve anything. However, the suffering has been so incredibly awful in Orlando following these tragedies, I imagine people have been affected very badly. Fortunately the good does outweigh the bad in this world and yes, it is so important that this is understood. Great article.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree that it's important to have a balanced perspective - bad things do happen in the world but we need to focus on good things that happen and good people in times like this.

      Delete
  5. Unfortunately there will always be bad things that happen. Thankfully tragedies are rare.(and would be rarer in the US if they had gun control..)
    To be honest I think some children become fearful due to their parents own fears. It's up to parents to keep a perspective on these things and if the child is old enough to understand then it's best to discuss it like you've said.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Children can certainly pick up on the anxiety of adults. I also do agree that there certainly should be a form of gun control in the US. Why do we need automatic and semi-automatic machine guns? Have you seen the film Bowling For Columbine? It's interesting as it looks at gun violence in the US and Canada. There are many less shootings in Canada than the US, although Canadians still own guns.

      Delete
  6. I don't think my child would be scared because she does not know about the shootings and bad things going on. She is only eight and I think there is no need worrying her. Having said this. These are good tips for a child who is aware of what has happened.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It's so sad what has happened lately and I think children process these things in different ways depending on how they heard the news - parents can explain things in reassuring ways but it they heard it over the radio, TV or from friends sometimes it can be over dramatised or in a more anxiety filled way. These are some really great tips to prove reassurance to those feeling anxious.

    Laura x

    ReplyDelete
  8. Don't have kids but I do have nephews and niece who could be curious about the incident. It's hard to let the fear be removed out from their mind but to explain them truthfully in a level of communication fits in them would be the best way.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I hate that this is even an issuse and something we as parents have to learn to talk about with children. Its such a sad world we live in.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I don't have children, but I do know that it is a terrible shame for Orlando with these 3 tragedies happening, in paricular the mass shooting that happened in Pulse. I would hope parents educate their children about it in the right way as to not incite fear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's such an awful thing to have happened.

      Delete
  11. I don't have any kids so can't reallye express my opinion, but it is horrible what happend in Orlando. Christina Grimmie was my biggest inspiration. The world is a scary place sometimes

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well said it is important to reassure children that although bad things do happen it is very rare that they do. I think its a good idea to be honest with them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we get a skewed version of 'normality' with 24 hour news all the time. It's important to balance such tragedy with the fact that this is an extremely rare occurrence.

      Delete
  13. It always makes me sad to see how the media can impact the fears of so many. Certainly bad things happen all over the world, but unfortunately when they do those incidents receive way too much attention. Wouldn't it be wonderful if positive events received half the attention?

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have a 12-year-old daughter and the most important thing is to keep them informed and always talk to them about everything. I find it more useful to get all types of news, good or bad, straight from me and her father and allow her to discuss her thoughts and feelings with us.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Good tips to help cope with some of these horrible events. I think communication is the key. Talk to them and explain what happened. I think it is always better if they hear it from you, good or bad.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I don't have kids but I have a 6 year old nephew and I can only imagine how difficult it is to explain such things to kids. We live in a harsh world so events like this happen everywhere, we just have to make sure these little ones try to search for the good in the world

    ReplyDelete
  17. I totally understand your point, and it's a pity these kind of bad things happen. I guess it's up to us, parents, either to make our kids read the news and be aware of bad things happening - or not. Personally I get depressed every time I read the news, so definitely I'll keep my kid away from it as far as I can.

    ReplyDelete
  18. We have a 7 year old and if he asks about the world's tragedies we will discuss it with him in language he can understand. However he rarely asks because he rarely sees those things. We don't really limit screen time on either TV or the computer, but he really has no interest in news programs or online newspapers. (I know shocker, right?) We traveled through Colombia for 3 months when he was 5 and we explained to him at that time the dangers and things we needed to do while walking around Cali.
    I think your situation was a little different as you were in Orlando when it happened, for us it was half a world away and although it did make the news it certainly wasn't as pervasive as I am sure it was in the USA.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes we were so close to all the tragedies things were different for us and your child being so young probably wasn't exposed to it as much as older children.

      Delete
  19. This was a great read. We don't have kids yet, but my husband and I have had discussions on how scary it seems to raise a child with all of the events taking place in the world recently. You're right though, a majority of people are good and the news over sensationalizes the bad things. It's great to read a parent's perspective on how you are handling things with your child.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I also don't have any kids, but I do take care of my two young nephews. They don't really understand the gravity of what happened in Orlando - or any disaster, really. Gun violence is not common here and despite some low class areas, the kids never feel unsafe. Every generation seems to handle things like this differently.

    ReplyDelete

© The Diary Of A Jewellery Lover. All rights reserved.
Blogger templates by pipdig