How to talk to your kids about missing children
KUSA - Missing children can be a tough subject to talk about with kids. With high-profile cases like the disappearance of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway, parents might be getting questions from their children who are seeing her picture on posters and on the news. (Picture courtesy of sheknows.com)
Bev Marquez from the Metro Crisis Line was in the 9NEWS studio Monday afternoon to help parents come up with ways to approach this sensitive subject.
Approaching the topic with an older child should begin with addressing fears and listening to their concerns.
"Right now, we know it's on the forefront of their mind," Marquez said. "Ask what their questions are."
She emphasizes that parents should not assume what their child's fears may be at the moment. After addressing the child's concerns, it's important to go over a family-safety plan.
"It's about feeling more informed and less paralyzed by fear, and that's when we're usually most effective," she said.
If children express a fear about walking alone to school, she suggests changing the routine. Perhaps try a buddy system or come up with a safety plan for the walk.
If a child is younger, Marquez says parents should address the topic in a simple and calm tone.
"Just as they know not to run out into the street, I think that we can remind them about the people that it's OK to go with and the people that it's not," she said.
Marquez says physical safety is what's most important for younger children. Holding and hugging a child can help calm them.
When talking to a child with a disability, different approaches may have to be taken, according to Marquez.
She suggests talking with the child's caregiver or teacher to come up with ways to talk to them that is not alarming but instead stresses safety. This may have to be done through stories, drawing, consultations, or with a specialist.
The crisis hotline at Metro Crisis Services offers free, direct services to Coloradans for mental health and substance abuse crises, information, and resource referrals.
The Crisis Line (1-888-885-1222) is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by experienced and licensed mental health professionals who provide support, consultation and assistance to anyone in the community who may need it; individuals, concerned family and friends, treatment providers, law enforcement and first responders.
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