In light of all that is happening in the Jewish Community, social workers from the Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JFCS) of Greater Philadelphia are providing helpful communication tips to families about how to discuss it with children. Robin Axelrod Sabag, LCSW, Assistant Director, JFCS Counseling and Therapeutic Services, has provided this advice.
5 Tips On How To Speak With Children Regarding What is Happening at Jewish Schools and Jewish Centers
1. Stay Calm: If adults are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, the children will sense this. Children imitate their parents’ behaviors, so acting like things are routine with safety precautions always in mind, the children will feel safer.
2. Allow children the space to feel whatever they are feeling. Try not to tell children how to feel, but let them express their own concerns. Just be there to listen and support them. Validate a child’s feelings. Everyone experiences emotions differently, so instead of telling each child not to worry, say something like “I can understand why you might be feeling this way”.
3. Give children information that is age appropriate. Children hear things from others, but it is best if they hear it from you. Keep information simple. Try to prepare children ahead of time about what might happen in the days to come. Be prepared to answer questions directly and honestly.
4. Provide children with reassurance. Let them know that although it is okay to be feel anxious or scared, that the community is doing everything in its power to keep them safe.
5. Remember that children are resilient. Although they may feel scared and want to stay home after an event, it is important that they return to normalcy and their structured routine as soon as possible.
It is normal for children to continue to be anxious after an such an event ; however, if you find that their day to day functioning is being affected, then you might want reach out for more professional support.