As school resumes for term 4, the global community is again confronted with another large-scale military conflict – the Israel-Hamas war. While Australia is a long way geographically from this fighting, we can feel quite affected by it through social media posts, which are often unfiltered and uncensored, and news reports that can be overwhelming in their frequency. We have also seen responses to this conflict spill into protests, marches and even the use of language of hate here in Sydney, which can add to a sense of fear and uncertainty right in our own backyard. Some of us may have very real concerns about loved ones and friends who may be caught up in these conflicts around the world. It is easy for us all, but especially our young people, to feel a sense of doom about the world and our future in it.
How do we cope with this – how do we help our children cope with this?
Talk about it: Some children and teen’s may ask questions about what is going on, some may talk to you about how they are feeling, and some may ask you questions about their safety – could this sort of thing happen in Australia. While you may not understand the complexity of the Israel-Hamas conflict yourself, a good place to start is to ask them what they know about it and how they are feeling. You might be able to correct some misinformation or help them feel a bit safer. By talking about these issues in a calm and sensitive way we can help to ease any anxieties that they might have.
Be mindful of your feelings: The younger a child is, the less “attuned” they may be to media reports, however all children are attuned to the emotions their parents and close people around them experience. When we are anxious or scared our children can feel anxious and scared. Being mindful of our own emotions and practicing some helpful coping strategies can be positive modelling for our children.
Should we put limits on news and social media? While it is important to keep up to date with news reports, too much information can be overwhelming and distressing for us and our children. Some good strategies might be to have a temporary break from news and social media, unfollow or block posts/accounts that are particularly graphic or triggering, or to choose to follow one reputable news outlet to keep us up to date,
The school counselling team is available to support any of our students who are affected in some way by this and other conflicts around the world. We are also available to consult with parents on how they can support their children. If you have any further questions or enquiries, please don’t hesitate to email email@example.com
Director of Counselling Services, Psychologist