Honest and regular communication
Honest and regular communication is key. Not talking about something can make children worry more.
Children often rely on their friends and social media for the news. Parents and carers can help by positioning themselves as a trusted source for information and as a person who can help children with their questions.
Parents can facilitate a child’s successful adjustment to a new challenge by:
- being accepting of the child’s concerns
- listening to the child’s perceptions, and gently correcting misinformation
- patiently encouraging a child to approach a feared situation one step at a time until it is becomes familiar and manageable
Take time to talk to your child about what’s going on. Find out how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking about, let them know it’s okay to feel scared or unsure, and try to answer their questions and reassure them in an age appropriate manner. Remember, you do not need to know all the answers, but talking things through can help them feel calmer.
Help them to reflect on how they’re feeling and encourage them to think about the things they can do to make them feel safer and less worried. Acknowledge your child’s feelings. Be careful not to dismiss, invalidate, make fun of or reject their feelings. You may also inform your child that it is common to feel this way; many other people (including children) experience similar feelings. Many people worry that validating their child’s feelings would mean they are agreeing with those and that this may further increase those feelings.
© University of East Anglia