This newsletter is designed for families to help guide an initial reflection on the attack at the US Capitol that occurred on January 6, 2021. In the days following these events, our children will need opportunities to make sense of what transpired and express their emotions. Please see below for resources and supports.
Responding to the Attack at the Capitol
The attack on the US Capitol has left parents wondering how to talk to their kids about what happened. How much should they see of the heartbreaking videos of violence? What should you tell them? Below are tips to help you talk to your children about this alarming event.
Tips for Talking to Kids
- Limit media exposure based on age.
- Keep your feelings in check. If you're having really strong emotions, you may want to make sure you understand them and have an opportunity to calm yourself before engaging your children.
- Initiate the Conversation. Ask open ended questions so that you can meet your children where they are at, versus talking to them at length about the events that transpired.
- Find out what they know. Ask them what they think happened before giving them any imagery.
- Reassure your children that they are safe. Use a calm and soothing voice to reassure children that they are safe. Also, pay attention to your body language and use reassuring gestures.
- Listen. Allow children to express their feelings, share their experiences and vent. Recognize that some children may not be ready to talk about the events, and that’s okay. Invite them to share questions they have to revisit later.
- Talk about bad actions, not bad people.
- Focus on the good. As tragic as the events were, community helpers and citizens came together to provide support to those in need. Congress was also able to reconvene to certify the election.
- Name feelings. Help your children identify what feelings they are experiencing. It is important for them to name these feelings so that you know how to respond and support them.
- Encourage children to act. Help children translate feelings of hopelessness into opportunities to respond with productive action. Join them in brainstorming ways they could support survivors and families experiencing this trauma.
- Teach healthy coping skills. Practice deep breathing, go for a walk as a family, spend time with a pet, or even draw together.
- Know when to seek help. Keep an eye on your children, monitor reactions and recognize that trauma can manifest in a variety of behaviors, including anger and disengagement
Please remember, it is not about having the magic words, it is simply about creating space for children to express their feelings and concerns.
Ideas for Integration Throughout the Day
If you are feeling overwhelmed by current events, try these resilience-building practices:
- Journaling is a powerful tool to process what we see, hear and feel. Take time with your child to journal on current events; you may choose a prompt together, or just take some time to write whatever is on your mind in that moment.
- Take a mindfulness walk. Walk together in silence. Practice being present in the moment by noticing your surroundings. Look around. What do you see? Take a deep breath and slowly inhale. What do you smell? Listen to your surroundings. What do you hear? Take turns sharing one observation or thing you enjoyed the most about the walk and discuss how it made you feel to focus on your surroundings.
- Regular family rituals/routines like eating dinner together every night or sharing a gratitude lists each morning can bring meaning and comfort during hard times.
The National Parent Helpline is open 7-days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.(1-855-427-2736) to get emotional support from a trained advocate.