Here’s tips for navigating tough conversations with children

Family Counseling Service

The nation is watching in the wake of a mass tragedy at an elementary school in Texas earlier this week.

Children undoubtedly have questions or fears from the nation’s discourse, and local counselors have tips for navigating these complicated topics.

Family Counseling Service in Tuscaloosa provides family, children and teen counseling to help improve the quality of life for people of West Alabama by promoting mental, emotional and social well-being.​

Executive Director Larry Deavers said it’s important for parents to be mindful of their children’s moods. Things to look out for include mood swings, changes in temperament and which questions they’re asking.

“If they seem to be changing in the emotions that they are expressing,” Deaver said. “A lot of times, depending on their age, parents will notice those types of changes before a child actually verbalizes what’s going on.”

Three main points for parents to keep in mind when having these conversations:

  • Be calm
  • Let your child guide the conversation
  • Be mindful of how much social media and screen time they are getting

“Children often read from their parents their emotions and so the more upset, anxious and worried a parent appears that can exaggerate those same emotions in a child,” Deaver said. “Ask them what they have heard, what they think about what they have heard and look for opportunities to share any comforting information about their safety or what they might be able to do if they feel like they are ever in danger in any way, and kind of help them feel better about what their options are.”

Deaver also said parents should keep in mind that children can be negatively impacted by an overwhelming amount of focus on a situation, so limiting screen time and limiting casual conversation about heavy topics is key.

Deavers said if you are noticing your child is excessively upset or fearful, it might be a good time to consult a counselor.

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