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                Dr. Gail Gross is a nationally recognized expert author and lecturer on juvenile education, behavior and development issues and is an advocate for the interests of children.

Dr. Gail Gross     "TITLE: A Chat with Parents on How to Help Children Deal with the Threat of War."

Tuesday,  February 20th at 6 p.m. (Eastern), Note portions of the text have been edited for spelling and grammatical errors, while other text with errors was left in tact in the context of the chat.


Rebecca {public msg} Hello and Welcome to our Specialty Chat Auditorium. If you have a question for our Host, Dr. Gail Gross: The topic is "How to talk and prepare your children for the possibility of war. Just type a "?" in the room. The names will be taken in order received. Please hold your questions until you are cued. Please refrain from general chit chat not involving the Topic. Thanks!

DR. Gross {public msg} Good afternoon. As we approach the possibility of impending war, we are called upon as parents and caregivers to guide our children through the mind-fields of real and present danger. How to face the challenge of explaining to children that their country may be going to war is creating an environment ripe for street related reactions. How can parents cope with their own anxieties while reassuring their children that they can protect them. Parents must have a plan. That is what we are going to talk about today.

Moderator {public msg} Dr Gross are you ready to take some questions now or do you have something else to start with?
DR. Gross {public msg} We are ready to go.
Dustmite {public msg} ?
Moderator {public msg} DTZ you have a question
DTZ {public msg} My 17 year old daughter blurted out last week ..."Mom are we going to die?" It was out of the blue. I tried to answer her without alarming her....but even with children that age...how do we tell them things without upsetting them?
Rebecca {action} . o O ( note: DR Gross is in Hawaii, talking with her typist in the USA via the chat here *S* )
DR. Gross {public msg} It is very important to not burden your children with your own fears. For that, go to a friend, a mate or a counselor. With your 17 year old, sit down and listen to their fears, ask them what they have heard, and then give them authentic, age-appropriate information - just the facts. Explain to them that our government and president are capable of protecting us, and as a family, engage them in creating a safety plan. Involve your children in that planning, including water supplies, food supplies, medicines, safe place to be in case of emergency . Just the planning will lower their anxiety. By investing them, you honor their feelings. Never discount their fears.

Moderator {public msg} Dustmite you have the next question.
Dustmite {public msg} DR. Gross i so rarely get to see the news, plus we have limited cable to see the news any hints on how i can explain what my kids might hear when i am watching ages of kids are 6, 6, and two
DR. Gross {public msg} Listen to your children and address their questions using age-appropriate information. A 6 year old is in concrete operation, and therefore, also sees everything in a personal way, so find out what they have heard and take their concerns seriously. Finally reassure them that you can protect them.
Dustmite {public msg} THANKYOU
DR. Gross {public msg} To Dustmite: Always reinforce your love and appreciation for your child and at this time especially, be emotionally available.
Moderator {public msg} (guest 13) Dr Gross, but how can we be positive we can protect them?
DR. Gross {public msg} We can't - and by having a plan for them and by practicing that plan with them, we are restoring a sense of balance and control back to them, like the air raid drills during the Korean conflict. Children are not our friends. They are looking toward us as the adults and that is the role we must plan in this time of terror.
Moderator {public msg} thank you
DR. Gross {public msg} addition to last question - Also it is important as the parent to restore a sense of normalcy as quickly as possibly to lower children's anxiety.
Guest13 {public msg} thank you
Guest13 {public msg} Do you think the public schools talk about the war too much? (follow up here)
DR. Gross {public msg} Regarding public schools - it is important for parents and professionals to talk to children about their fears in relation to current events. Only then can we help them. Talking is not the problem. The problem is when we escalate their fears by exposing them to our fears.

Moderator {public msg} guest 9 you have a question
Guest8 {public msg} I'm curious to know, If you know, if the Media is hyping allot of things out of context. I mean some of it scares me, let alone my children.
Dustmite {public msg} ?
Rebecca {public msg} My children come home from school with more questions, than they do watching news or listening to radio
Please refrain from general chit chat not involving the Topic. Thanks!
DR. Gross {public msg} Regarding media hype - There is a difference between the news reporting channels/stations and the news analysis channels. One gives us important information and, in fact, in the case of an emergency can save our lives. The other is entertainment, and therefore, uses hype to get audience and ratings. Monitor your viewing and your children's.
Guest8 {public msg} Ahhhh ok, so there are really no restraints on what they can report to the public? I mean news radio ect
Guest8 {public msg} They sometimes seem to expose to much information and just not enough comforting follow ups i guess
Guest8 {public msg} We stopped letting our kids listen or watch the news unless we are seated right beside them.
DR. Gross {public msg} To Rebecca: Of course - school is the place where children, families and their viewpoints come together - both your family and others. This is a great opportunity to dispel rumors and give age appropriate facts. This connects you to your children as part of your family as well as to the community.
Rebecca {public msg} Yes, and i tell them, and how old was this child that told you this or that
DR. Gross {public msg} Guest 8 - Great plan. That is the right plan. Parents should guide their children through tv viewing.
Guest8 {public msg} Thank you dr gross!
DR. Gross {public msg} To Rebecca: You don't want your children to discover for themselves beliefs that may be wrong. You must use a calm and sincere voice to communicate to them what is going on, and what your plan is as a family to deal with it. Keep it simple and age appropriate. If you involve them in the process, they will feel valued and less anxious. Then practice that plan.
Rebecca {public msg} Did Dr gross have some questions she wanted to ask us...
Rebecca {public msg} Thank you dr gross
Rebecca {public msg} Makes me feel we are in the right direction
DR. Gross {public msg} I wanted to say - at this important time when you talk to your children about war, you have to ask yourself the forbidden question - what do you - Mom and Dad - what do you believe when it comes to war; what are your principles that guide your life. This can open the family to very deep and intimate connection and is a great teaching tool.
Mommynell {public msg} What if Mom and Dad believe different things about the way? What do we tell the kids then?
Rebecca {public msg} I guess that would depend on how much or how little we want to tell our children?
Moderator {action} . o O ( thats trouble to start )
Rebecca {public msg} I have allot of fears i would never share with my kids
Mommynell {public msg} How do you respond their questions.. when you can't come to a common ground with even dh?
DR. Gross {public msg} That is okay - this is the empathic process. We are teaching our children that we can have different opinions and respect and acknowledge them, while still getting along - in fact, continuing to love each other in spite of the differences.
Moderator {public msg} So to answer nell...you would let both parents offer what they feel?
Rebecca {public msg} Ahhhhhh very good
Rebecca {public msg} I'm more empathetic than my husband, my kids know this, so they usually come to me first anyways.
Mommynell {public msg} Within reason then Moderator, as long as you don't share your fears with them (my dd is 6- I don't want to tell her anymore than she needs to know)
DR. Gross {public msg} It is not about agreement - it is about creating a safe space in which to listen and honor others fears and beliefs. This takes us back to our roots, and it is what families are really about - connecting.
Rebecca {public msg} Exactly Nell, same here
Guest8 {public msg} Thank you dr gross, very good information.
Mommynell {public msg} What do you do when your child seems to obsess about a subject, such as the Sept 11th attacks? My 6 yr old dd will ask me the same questions over and over again, such as why would people want to fly planes into buildings? why would they want to hurt people? How did the people in the buildings die"
DR. Gross {public msg} Some other questions that I have - what is the biggest concern of all that parents have today in relation to the war? Are their any topics that you would like the media to address particularly? Finally, how would you describe the mood of your family today?
Rebecca {public msg} Biggest concerns....That the USA will endure for the freedom in my children's future
Moderator {public msg} My children are all older, and they each have their own personnel view, but I have 2 grandkids who are constantly asking questions about it. Or making statements like...Dad why cant we just turn the land into glass (he heard that on tv somewhere)
Rebecca {public msg} Nell, my daughter was 7 when 9-11 happened and asked the same questions, we sat her down and told her the truth, but in her terms, Like there are just bad people in the world that do not like or love everyone..
Rebecca {public msg} And these bad people do not believe in our God...they believe it is ok to hurt or even kill others.
Mommynell {public msg} Rebecca, my daughter was 3 (i think.. maybe four lol) and she would sit in front of the tv and watch those images over and over again.. we actually had to block the tv (with the parental controls) so she could not do this.. she just seems kind of obsessed about it, and no matter what answer I give to her, she is NOT satisfied
Rebecca {public msg} She will understand better once she gets a lil older nell ;) hang in there.
Rebecca {public msg} DR Gross, I would describe my family now, as under control
Rebecca {public msg} We address every question to the best of our ability together and they seem comfortable with the answers
DR. Gross {public msg} To Mommynell: This is so important. There are 3 things to know about a 6 year old - 1) they are in concrete operation, so that means to speak to them in a very literal way "the bad man wants to do bad things to our country." 2) Children at 6 are very egocentric, so they believe in a war, bombs will fall on their home, their mom, their dad and on them. 3) When they speak excessively about war, it is lower their anxiety. They are looking for a plan, for an answer. You hold the key as a parent to give them that plan - whether in reality it can help or not. Then practice and rehearse it. Finally, find concrete things to do that they can do to help the war effort - like make pictures for soldiers, write letters, and restore a sense of connectedness and normalcy right away. Eat meals together; read stories; cuddle time; night lights; take walks and play with them - child-centered focused things to do together.
DR. Gross {public msg} It is also important to know your child's history - if they have experienced trauma such as divorce, death or abuse. These children need extra reassurance, both verbally and physically. Be generous with your hugs. Never discount their feelings. Something as simple as a night light can help.
Moderator {public msg} What should we read into (if anything) a Childs total lack of any concern?
Guest8 {public msg} The biggest concerns, on your earlier questions?
DR. Gross {public msg} It is important to watch for signs of stress. Young children show more neediness and attachment. Older children become more aggressive as a way of controlling feelings of fear and helpless. Know your child, watch for signs and changes in appetite, sleep habits, socializing and school work.
Guest8 {public msg} Mine is, Will we be able to deal with war if it hits our land I guess. They tell us that there is a missile that can reach Cal. BUT they don't tell us if they can protect us from that missile
Guest8 {public msg} Things like, WE can shoot it down before it reaches us...
DR. Gross {public msg} Moderator - A lot. Many times the thing that we are the most concerned about, we repress as a way of avoiding and controlling our fears. Keep an open line of communication as a family and keep connected to your children and their feelings. The parents that talk the most about everything, have the healthiest children in the long run. Don't be afraid to communicate.
Rebecca {public msg} Thank you Dr Gross!
Moderator {public msg} Thank you Dr Gross, you have given us allot of good advise
Rebecca {public msg} We will be in contact & hope to see you in the Ask The Pro section on the Discussion Boards!
DR. Gross {public msg} Guest8 - I am a very positive person and I have great faith in the human spirit. We can't control what happens, but we can control our response. If we keep cool and not reactive, our greatest weapon is our mind. It is also our greatest emergency plan.
Guest8 {public msg} Wow, that is so true!
Guest8 {public msg} I agree
Moderator {public msg} Yes it is
4Busymom {public msg} Yes..i agree
DR. Gross {public msg} Goodbye - this can be an opportunity to reconnect with the basic values of family, and in a sense remind us of our roots, and of what is really important in life -- our relationships.
Guest8 {public msg} I just hope i can control my response, i'm glad my kids were at school during 9-11, because i was very emotional for a little bit
Guest8 {public msg} Thanks so much Dr gross for your time!
4Busymom {public msg} Oh i was too..but wanted to go grab them out of school
4Busymom {public msg} But i didn't
DR. Gross {public msg} Thank you all and God Bless you until next time. Dr. G
Rebecca {public msg} Good bye Dr Gross! Thank you for your time!
Twinkle {public msg} Thank you Dr Gross.....Have a Great Evening!

For more information please read Dr. Gail Gross's article on

A MESSAGE TO PARENTS ON HOW TO HELP CHILDREN DEAL WITH THE THREAT OF WAR

Please feel free to join in the discussions on the Discussion Boards at any time!
http://www.parenthoodplace.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi



 


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