Many schools across Australia have had an unsettled start to the year with unprecedented lockdowns and evacuations due to a number of threats. This experience has not only been disruptive but has caused distress for adults and children.

So how do we as parents handle this unique situation? What do we tell our kids – especially those who have been involved in a lockdown or evacuation?

Control how we respond

Our resident Child Psychologist, Greg Powell advises that we’re careful with how we respond. He says,

“Our children are always watching and learning from the way we handle our own emotional experience.”

Sometimes it’s better to keep a lid on our emotions and restrict the amount of information we give our kids, so they don’t get overwhelmed. We need to assure children that the adults have it covered, that their teachers and the Police are there to look after them.

Appropriate communication

It’s really important to choose our words carefully when talking about this kind of situation. Greg says,

“If we completely dismiss or avoid talking about the incident then for some children who have questions, this can send the message that it is better not to talk about things.  If we are overly reactive and catastrophise the events then this can teach our children that they need to live in fear.”

Be open but not too open – decide what kind of information would be helpful to kids and what would just make them fearful. Answer your child’s questions with facts, listen to their fears and reassure them that school is still a safe place to be.

Know your child

While adults may be able to handle the uncertainty of this situation, kids react differently. Greg says,

“All children are wired differently and it is the challenge of being a parent to know your own child.  Understand what they need, and separate this from what we need as parents.  Remember that the science of emotional development tells us that our children’s brains are different from ours and they are not yet capable of processing highly emotional information in a logical and rational manner.  We need to make sure we are helping them to do this rather than adding to the emotional minefield in their brain that they are trying to navigate.”

Know the  facts

Holding onto the facts of what’s happening will help you deal with the situation. Don’t get swept up into ‘what-ifs’, just listen to what the authorities are telling you and go through your day like you always do. The worst thing that you can do is become fearful about sending your child to school and getting them worked up about it. Just trust the Police and the information they are giving you.

Our local area Commander, Dave Darcy assured parents with these facts:

“…the kids are well practiced with lock down procedures and are familiar with them. It is not a stressful process… I can reassure parents I have personally seen how staff at the school respond and they are superb, reassuring and very professional and most importantly so caring and understanding. We are working very close with them.”

If you or your children need someone to talk this through with, please don’t hesitate to make an appointment at themindspace.

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