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How can we help our 9yo GD?

(10 Posts)
Nananorth Tue 30-May-17 11:43:44

Our 9yo GD, usually a sunny and sociable child, has suddenly developed separation anxiety from her parents and become nervous in other situations. I imagine she is not alone - this is a result of the terrible events in Manchester last week. It was hard to avoid the news but her parents followed advice from places like BBC Newsround in talking to her about it so it was done in a gentle and age appropriate manner. However I don't think anyone of any age has not been affected to it so her reaction is understandable. I would love ideas of how best to help her.

She says she doesn't want to let her parents out of her sight in case something happens to them while she is away from them. She also became very nervous in a busy and enclosed space while out (with her parents) and from the language she used it's clear she has heard grown ups (not her parents) talking about the element of risk in places like this in these times of heightened security

None of us like to see her like this but any ways to help her deal with this would be gratefully received.

f77ms Tue 30-May-17 12:30:32

I have mixed feelings about talking to children about such frightening events but I suppose they may hear it from other sources . I remember being terrified about my Mothers reaction during the Cuban missile crisis , I just wanted her to reassure me that everything would be OK. I would tend to reassure her that these things are very rare and that the family will be OK etc . You could also say that the police are taking extra steps to ensure our safety. Maybe avoid crowded noisy places until she feels more secure .

cornergran Tue 30-May-17 12:43:19

Its a natural reaction, Nananorth, our granddaughters have also been concerned but with a less strong reaction. I would agree, lots of reassurance, try for her to see that for all the horror of this event there are many, many instances of people going to concerts and being in crowded places in safety. Remind her of all the times her parents have been to the shops, to work and the myriad of other places she is aware of and returned without a problem. Its impossible to keep these things from children, we live in an instant news society and unless she never sees anything news related she was bound to find out. Her parents did the best they could to help her understand so as a family I wouldn't see you have handled this badly. If its at all possible I would gradually re-introduce her to crowded places, although avoiding them does help in the short term in the long term it can set up an unhelpful belief that we are only safe if we avoid. It sounds as if she has already been to a busy place and although nervous she coped with it. Help her to think that she has been safe, remind her she is coping. I would hope her reaction would gradually ease but if it doesnt I would be inclined to have a chat with the school, if she isn't the only one, and she is unlikely to be, there may be a place for some reinforcement in school time. I do hope this passes quickly and wish everyone well.

Nananorth Tue 30-May-17 13:26:23

Thank you - those are wise words.

By the way they didn't purposely decide to tell her about the attacks but it was pretty impossible to avoid - fortunately many people including Mumsnet published guides on how to explain the events to the children so those were helpful and I think they pretty much followed that advice. But yes people talk and there is no doubt she heard stuff at school whether it was in the playground or parents talking at picking up time.

I fully understand as I am nervous about the same things after this happened and many people I know feel exactly the same so why wouldn't she? We still do them because it is important not to be cowed but there is always that niggle of unease. It was the same after 7/7 and the events in Paris.

I think part of it is that she knows a little girl her age died and that has brought it home to her even more (hasn't it to all of us?) Such a tragedy the whole thing.

Her parents (and I) have explained that it is important we carry on as normal but we know it can feel hard to do this so she should tell us when she is feeling nervous. It's a very rational fear though

That is a very good idea about the school

paddyann Tue 30-May-17 13:38:17

I was annoyed that my grandaughters school decided to tell them about Manchester ..they are in a very small town hundreds of miles north of that city and have never come into contact with hate crimes.She was quite distressed but I told her that she's been all over europe with mum ,dad and grandparents and nothing bad has happened to any of them ,and all the adults in her life ahve done the same for decades.I said she was more likely to be hit by a car through being negligent ,and she knows she's not.I wish the school had contacted parents and asked their views befoore saying things that they didn't really need to hear

TriciaF Tue 30-May-17 14:19:35

When explaining to a child about sad and frightening things I think you have to take into account their age, their nature ie sensitivity level, and their maturity for their age.If they're easily upset, play it down. But sometimes it's impossible to protect them.
When I was that age the things I heard about what was happening to children and babies in WW2 affected me for life.

TriciaF Tue 30-May-17 14:22:48

ps not just that it scared me at the time, it made me want to prevent it happening again.

Jalima1108 Tue 30-May-17 16:54:49

She may well have been told about this at school too, in an age-appropriate way. DGD who is the same age told me that they had all held a minute's silence at school and how sad they all are about the awful events.
All they can do is keep reassuring her and hope that her confidence returns naturally before too long.

Christinefrance Tue 30-May-17 19:07:55

Yes I agree TriciaF we cannot protect our children from hearing about these atrocities, they have access to social media and hear adults talking. Far better to tell them in an age appropriate way and by their families. Nananorth your granddaughter's reaction is a bit extreme but I'm sure her school have counsellors who can advise on the best way to help.

M0nica Wed 31-May-17 18:08:28

It is better that parents and schools discuss these events openly with children rather than have them listen to news, fake news and horrors on the media and not fully understand.

DGS (6) recently told his mother that he was glad he didn't live in Syria and it was clear he was aware of a lot that was going on there. No one has any idea how he accumulated the knowledge he clearly has.