I know it’s been a while since the violent attack on our nation’s Capital, but as a mother, I’m still dealing with the fallout.
Do you have any suggestions on how to talk with an elementary–age child who is fearful and still asking questions about the event?
Dear Concerned Mom,
My first advice is to talk with a professionally trained therapist if she/he is extremely anxious or fearful. Your child may need professional help.
I’ve watched interviews of parents and children discussing their feelings and have asked my family members with young children how they are handling the events of January 6th. This research coupled with my training in elementary education and coaching leads me to give you these suggestions.
As always, it’s important not to discount or belittle your child’s feelings. If they are old enough to understand that the Capitol is a revered, public institution and they have seen it desecrated, they may fear that something like this can happen in their environment. They may think, “If violence can happen there, it can happen anywhere.” Tell them that the last time the Capitol was stormed was in 1814 by British troops when they burned Washington—more than 200 years ago. Help them understand that this is a very rare happening and not the norm.
Children who have visited the Capitol in person may have the strongest reactions because they can visualize the environment. They know, first hand, what it’s like to go through security, to be told not to touch anything, and to have a sense of reverence. Their past vision may have been compromised by horrific scenes. Help them understand that the Capitol will be restored to how they last saw it. Most importantly, reassure them that they are safe and you will protect them from harm.
It sounds like you have a caring, sensitive child. Be proud that they care enough to be concerned. Likewise, be proud that you care enough to be concerned about them.