BRATTLEBORO—The Brattleboro Food Co-op serves many area families.
Dr. Jilisa Snyder, clinical director of the Brattleboro Retreat’s Anna Marsh Clinic, offers words of guidance to parents and guardians looking to support their children in the aftermath of Tuesday’s violence.
The two “classic guidelines” for adults encompass creating a space for children to ask questions, and for the grown-ups to provide only the information asked for, said Snyder.
Like adults, children will respond to violent events in their own way and on their own timeline, she said.
But explaining a violent act to a four-year-old is different than talking with a 17-year-old, she said, and adults should do their best to match the information they give children with where the child is developmentally.
Let children know they can ask a question as many times as they need to “absorb the information,” said Snyder.
Always provide honest answers to children, but do not feel the need to provide more information than the child can absorb age-wise or than the child asks for, she added.
One important role for adults at this time, she said, is helping children feel safe. Helping children understand that officials like the police are investigating the crime and that other adults are supporting the victims can ease any anxieties.
It’s also important for children’s sense of safety to know that their parents and grown-ups in their lives are taking care of themselves and staying safe, Snyder said.
According to Snyder, if asked, caregivers can share their own feelings with children but, here again, honesty and providing a framework of security are key.
Telling the child it’s natural to feel scared, but that adults know how to help each other, can be away to approach this question, said Snyder.
Caregivers should also tell children to ask them questions about anything they hear on the community level.
Emotionally children may also feel “porous” after a violent event and so Snyder encourages parents to “monitor images that may not typically be frightening” to children. Previously beloved movies of books may suddenly become too scary after a traumatic event.