Just ‘B’ offers tips on how parents can talk to children following events in Manchester
Clare Godden, who is one of the heads of service at Just ‘B’, spoke to Stray FM to offer advice for parents and carers whose children have been affected by the recent events in Manchester.
Clare said: “As an organisation, our thoughts and deepest condolences are with all of those affected by last night’s tragic events in Manchester.
“Along with the many children, young people and adults affected, we know that young people from Harrogate were at the event in Manchester and that many of young people in our community knew others who were at the event.
“Children and young people might have questions or concerns; they might have emotions such as shock and distress, and we hope that by drawing upon our experience supporting young people at Just ‘B’ we can offer some advice to parents on how to talk to their children about what they are feeling.”
Just ‘B’ offers the following advice to parents and carers whose children may be affected by the events in Manchester
• Remember that everyone is different and reacts differently
Everyone responds differently following a traumatic event, whether this is a bereavement or another distressing situation; at Just ‘B’ we encourage parents to be prepared and flexible enough to deal with a range of emotional reactions. This might be anger, fear or anxiety, children and young people might cry, have questions or might not want to talk about it at all.
• Help your child or young person to understand that what they are feeling is normal
When people experience a trauma or hear about a traumatic event they might be overwhelmed with emotions, have questions or worries, or be empathising with the people affected by the event. As a parent or carer it is important to reassure children and young people that what they are feeling is normal. At Just ‘B’ we would encourage parents to create a safe space where the child can share their thoughts, and where they know their feelings will be taken seriously.
• Let them know you’re there for them now, or whenever they feel ready
Ask the child or young person how they are feeling, but prepare for the fact that they might not want to talk; they might be in shock and it could take days or weeks for them to process the situation. Let them know they can come to you at any time. If they are struggling to express themselves, they might find it easier to use a different medium like writing their feelings down or drawing.
• Be led by what the child or young person feels comfortable with
People respond to distress in different ways – and this is true of children and young people: they might want to have some time alone, or they might want to spend more time with you or have more regular contact. At Just ‘B’ we would say that it is important to be led by the individual child and what they feel is right for them.
• Support them in their sadness and be open to their distress
We can’t stop the pain that children and young people are experiencing, but parents, carers and people close to them can support their sadness and be open to their distress – it might be sitting alongside them, offering comfort, and it might be listening or talking through their questions or concerns.
When someone we love is in distress, we instinctively want to fix it and make things better. But often we can’t fix things, which can make us feel helpless. However, rather than trying to fix it, the best thing we can do to support that child or young person is being there with them and listening.
Just ‘B’ Bereavement Support is one of the services provided by Saint Michael’s.