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How to Cope When a National Tragedy Touches the Whole Family

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All of us here at Boiron are deeply saddened by the tragic events that unfolded this past Friday in Newtown, Conn. And for many of us, this national tragedy is sparking conversation and stirring up intense emotions for both parents and children alike. We encourage you to let those family conversations naturally happen—there is undoubtedly a strong connection between the mind and body when it comes to overall wellness. And since it’s very likely that children will be exposed to much media coverage in the coming days, we’re sharing the following tips from medical experts that can offer some insights on coping with tragedy and how homeopathic medicines can help relieve stress and grief in these troubled times.

Psychologist Tamar Chansky, author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: 4 Simple Steps to Overcome Worry and Create the Life You Want, recommends the following to help open the lines of communication between your family members:

Turn off the news. Parents are the best source of news for their children. News programs are not geared for children and repeated exposure to distressing information or images can be confusing.

Don't give details. Children don't need to know details. Unless they ask, this is not important information. They need to have a narrative to understand the basics of what occurred. Emphasize that many people are working to make sure that doesn't happen again, and that it is over.

Start with what your child already knows. Ask your child what they've heard of what happened. Young children do not need to know unless they will be exposed to the information at church or synagogue or some other venue. High school students will likely have more questions. Listen to their questions, ask for their input and share yours at a level appropriate for your child.

Consider your purpose. Although we can't always protect [our children] from the fact that bad things do happen, we can protect them from feeling more vulnerable and scared because of our explanations. Our explanations should let children know that hard and bad things happen sometimes, but they are very rare, that billions of other people don't want those things to happen, just like them, and that there are thousands of people whose job is to keep children safe. These people work to prevent things from happening. Very rarely bad things do happen, and that is very sad.

Maintain your routines. When a tragedy occurs, the routines such as regular meals and bedtimes may get compromised. Change is stressful; routine is organizing. Routines signal to children that the adults are in charge, and that normalcy prevails.

Restore a sense of safety. This is not a time to teach about what to do if an emergency occurred. The priority now is to tell children that they are safe, help them to picture the layers and layers of adults whose job it is to keep them safe: their parents, the mayor of their town, the president, their teachers and school personnel.

Stay calm. Children are likely to see parents upset during this time, and crying and feeling sad are all normal, expected and healthy reactions to a tragedy. You can explain this to your child. It is very important in the presence of children to avoid angry outbursts and tirades against people you believe are responsible; this will be confusing and may even make children feel that they are somehow responsible for making you sad or angry.

Give support and spend time with your children. While this is an extremely emotional time for parents identifying with and grieving for the parents who have lost their children, or families who have lost loved ones, spending time with your children will help you and your children to feel connected and safe.

Expect a range of reactions. Children may cry when they hear the news, they may be angry or they may have little reaction. All of these are normal. Children may be more clingy, need more hugs and support at bedtime. All of this is normal.

When to seek help. If after a week or two, children continue to be having difficulties, and their anxiety and fears have intensified over that time rather than faded and resolved, consult your pediatrician for advice.

In addition to Chansky’s tips, nationally recognized physician Lauren Feder, M.D., shared this message with her followers this weekend:

Amidst the beginning of holiday cheer, we have been beset with disturbing news. I have received calls from parents of young children who have been greatly affected by the tragedies. Homeopathy is a wonderfully versatile form of natural medicine and can be used at times like these to offer some relief and provide clarity. Consider the following, and use if needed for both children and adults:

Aconitum napellus (Aconite) is useful for the feeling of anxiety and panic resulting from an accident or from frightening or shocking events. In addition, one feels nervous, agitated, and cannot sit still. Directions: Take Aconite 30C or 200C, 4 pellets as needed.

Ignatia amara is the main remedy for loss, sorrow and grief. It is indicated for sobbing and hysteria following a profound loss. Directions: Take Ignatia 30C or 200C, 4 pellets as needed.

How did you talk to your children about Friday’s tragedy? What ways did you use to calm their fears? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below or on our Facebook page.

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