By now you've seen images of the wreckage caused by a terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan. But have your children seen them, too? If they're asking questions about why and how natural disasters occur, here are tips from Dr. Paul Coleman, author of How to Say it to Your Child When Bad Things Happen, on how to answer them honestly, while still making them feel safe:
- Wait until they're older. Until around age 7, Dr. Coleman suggests only addressing the tough stuff if kids bring it up first. "They might see it on TV or hear about it at school (or heaven forbid even witness it), and then you have to deal with it. But younger children might not be able to handle it well," says Dr. Coleman.
- Keep it black and white. Yes, the world can be a cruel place, but little kids, well, can't handle the truth."Younger kids need to be reassured that this isn't happening to them and won't happen to them," says Dr. Coleman. Parents may feel like they're lying, since no one can ever be 100% sure of what the future holds, but probability estimates are not something small kids can grasp, and won't comfort them.