How to Help Your Children Process Difficult Incidents
In light of the recent news coming out of Wheaton North High School affecting our teens and community, we’d like to provide the parents of local students some pointers for talking with your children about this incident, as well as other situations which may or have arisen within their classes, peer groups or in other areas of life.
We have included a list of helpful tips below, and we also recommend the book, “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things” by Beth Moore. In it, Beth explores further how to talk about, process and address difficult behaviors from those we know well or from our communities.
Here are some suggested steps for helping your children process difficult incidents:
1. Ask your son/daughter what he or she is FEELING. LISTEN and VALIDATE such feelings. Remember, it is normal for students to feel a wide variety of emotions upon hearing shocking news. Some students may feel angry, sad, disappointed, and/or fearful. Conversely, some students may feel numb.
2. Ask your student what they are THINKING. Find out if they have questions about any of the information they have heard. Refrain from interrupting and let them talk and/or ask questions.
3. Ask your student what they NEED. Some students need to process alone and just need some uninterrupted time alone– alone from people and social media. Other students need time to be with their friends to talk about their feelings outside of the school setting. Still other students need a venue to express without words such as through exercise or sport or through drawing or writing. Respect your son or daughters needs for ways to process.
4. Express your thoughts from a parent’s perspective. Remind your student that we live in a sinful, fallen world and that believer’s can and do fall into sin. Teach them that it is appropriate to feel angry at the sin, but that we eventually need to forgive the sinner just as we have been forgiven by God. Encourage your son or daughter to pray through their feelings and to pray for all who are affected by this incident. In addition, don’t be afraid to model your own appropriate emotional response so that students have permission to feel and express.
5. Give permission for your student to seek additional support if needed from their youth pastor, core group leader, school social worker, or counselor.
Should you or your child feel that further assistance is needed in coping with or understanding a difficult incident within your family, peer group or community, please don’t hesitate to Contact Us. We will be happy to help you and your family get through the difficult time you are facing both healed and stronger from facing the challenge.