Dear Parents, Whanau, Community,
I urge all those with young children to read the following which has been adapted from the words of Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting.
Filtering Out the horror and terror from the events that occured in our country is so important when we look to our tamariki. I urge that young children (under 9 or 10 years) not be exposed to news reporting on screen or radio, or unguarded and unfiltered adult conversations about the shooting that occured in Christchurch. Young children do not really grasp that repeated announcements are about one single horrific event. I’m a well adjusted adult and I can barely make sense of the horror.
Each time our children hear a news report about the shooting, or overhear an unguarded adult conversation, the risk is that it sets off a brain-based “cascade” of fight-or-flight hormones which can significantly delay their healing and trust in our communities and country.
While tween and teens can intellectually know that these, reports are about the same event, the same “amygdala hijack,” fight or flight response occurs on a deeper level. For those of you who have listened and been inspired by the work of Nathan Mikaere Wallis, you will KNOW what I am talking about.
There is a compelling body of research indicating that kids who watch repeated media images of the tragic events could suffer PTSD like symptoms very similar to the people who were actually involved in the incident first hand. Who wants that for their kids?
The filtering out mantra applies here more than ever. Before you say anything in front of your child ask yourself three simple questions.
1. Is it true? 2. Is it kind? 3. Is it necessary? Unless your instinct gives you a very clear “yes” to each of these questions, chances are it is way better to defer the comment until your child is not present.
For tween and teens, spend time “hanging out” with them. Simply sitting nearby while they do their homework or listening to music is a subtle but important part of being present and available. The metaphor of taking a break from the turbulent waters of world events and mooring your canoe along side your tween or teenager on a calmer riverbank of simple and familiar family life, seems to fit here.
In the days and weeks ahead, please look beyond behaviour that pushes our parenting buttons, know that there will be something deeper going on for your children. They can’t articulate or process it, it most likely will come out with behaviour. Our world has experienced deep shock, trauma and grief, and is now in mourning and repair. Our children feel this on levels that are deeper than conscious thought and words. Please look compassionately, with loving, kind eyes. Our children look to us to make sense of the world, let them see love.
I’m here if anyone wants to connect about how to support their children through events like that which have unfolded on Friday and the days following. My heart is so very heavy and I mourn for all who have been affected.