Dublin Unrest and the Impact on Children
The recent unsettling events near a Dublin school, where a stabbing incident occurred, have left our hearts heavy, especially for the young ones who should be eagerly anticipating the joyous RTE Late Late Toy Show. In the aftermath, as one little girl fights for her life and others grapple with the recovery process, the vandalism driven by a ‘lunatic, hooligan faction’ has added an extra layer of anxiety to the situation. In times like these, the responsibility falls on us—parents, carers, creche staff, early years workers, and teachers—to support children following this unrest.
Understanding the Impact on Children:
Children, like sponges, absorb the emotions and events around them. While we may wish to shield them from the harsh realities of the world, the ubiquity of news and information makes it challenging to keep distressing incidents entirely hidden. As adults, we must acknowledge the impact such events can have on the young minds we nurture.
Creating a Safe Space for Communication:
In times of unrest, children may choose not to share their feelings, fearing judgment or concern. It is crucial for us, as the adults in their lives, to create a safe space for open communication. Remembering my own experience as a child when I overheard a distressing incident on the radio, I vividly recall the lingering vivid images and unsettling thoughts that I kept to myself. Many children may be experiencing similar emotions, making it essential for us to encourage them to express their thoughts and provide a listening ear filled with empathy.
Addressing Concerns with Empathy:
In times of uncertainty, children may grapple with fear, confusion, or anxiety. As parents and caregivers, we must be attuned to their emotional needs. Acknowledge their feelings and let them know that it’s okay to feel a range of emotions. Encourage them to express their thoughts and concerns, and listen with empathy.
Choosing Age-Appropriate Information:
When discussing distressing events, tailor the information to the age and maturity level of the child. Shield younger children from graphic details, focusing on providing reassurance and emphasizing that they are safe. For older children, engage in a more detailed conversation, answering their questions truthfully while emphasizing hope and resilience.
Reassuring Routine and Normality:
Children thrive on routine and a sense of normality. In times of unrest, maintaining their daily routines as much as possible provides stability and a comforting anchor amid the storm of unsettling news.
Empowering Positive Action:
Empower children to channel their emotions into positive actions. Encourage them to express their feelings through art, writing, or other creative outlets. Participating in activities that contribute to the well-being of others can foster a sense of agency and purpose.
Seeking Professional Support if Needed:
Don’t hesitate to seek professional support if a child’s distress seems prolonged or severe. Child psychologists, counsellors, or school support services can offer guidance tailored to the child’s needs.
Leading with Hope and Resilience:
During the unrest, our role as caregivers is not just to shield but to guide us with hope and resilience. Assure children that while unfortunate events occur, there are countless stories of kindness, compassion, and community support. Teach them that even in the face of darkness, light is abundant.