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'More Horrifying for Children': How American Parents Can Help Kids Cope with War News


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News of atrocities committed against Israelis this past weekend have saturated television, the internet, and social media.  Psychiatrists say children and families who see these pictures and hear the stories can become traumatized.   

That's why mental health experts recommend parents try to limit their family's exposure to news programs and the web during events like we're experiencing this week. Taking that action can protect them from graphic images and other damaging information, according to psychiatrist Daniel Amen

"It's horrifying," Dr. Amen told CBN News. "It's horrifying for all of us, but is more horrifying for children."

Dr. Amen said parents can help frightened children by simply spending more time with them.

"When kids are stressed, they need you now more than ever," he said. "They need you to listen to what's going on in their heads so that you can help them process."

Dr. Amen said since children usually don't have the perspective on news events that parents possess, they may think what they see and hear about might happen to them. Therefore, it can be helpful for parents to tell children the incidents are isolated and are taking place far away. 

"But the more we talk about them, the more we allow kids to see them, which is why I often say turn off the news, they'll begin to think they're commonplace, and then they'll begin to worry about their own safety," said Dr. Amen.

Psychiatrist Stephen Grcevich told CBN News parents might want to keep their own emotions in check. 

"We need to model for our kids the way we would like them to cope with difficult and challenging circumstances," he said.

Dr. Grcevich said children often learn from watching their parents how to behave in times of trouble. 

"This is something that we saw quite often during COVID," Dr. Grcevich explained, "that parents who tended to become very anxious in response to news about the pandemic tended to have kids who became very anxious about the pandemic. And that anxiety spilled over into other areas of their lives."

Instead of fostering fear in their children, parents can instead help their kids respond to trials in a proactive, positive manner.

"Like in the case of a teenager, on their social media platforms," he said. "Raise money for a reputable charity that's providing aid and assistance to families that have been impacted by the tragedy in Israel. That would be a positive thing they can do."

Now more than ever, parents should pray for their children, Sharon Jaynes, author of Praying for Your Child from Head to Toe told CBN News. 

"Even though they're seeing atrocities on the television, they're hearing parents talk about what's going on," said Jaynes. "Praying for calmness over our children, and praying that they will not be worried, but trust in the sovereignty of God in their own lives."   

Jaynes recommends praying the Word of God. 

"Praying, 'Is anything too hard for the Lord?' Praying that scripture over them.  Praying that 'The Lord goes before you, will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged,'" she said. "'The Lord is our shepherd.' Praying that over them. 'I sought the Lord and He answered me.  He delivered me from all my fears.' Praying that over our children."  

Jaynes said no one will be a perfect parent, but we can all be praying parents who confidently pray for God's protection and provision in the physical and spiritual realms. 

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