The cross : What to say to children after the attack on the teacher in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine? How to find the words to tell the horror of this act to the youngest?
Dana castro : Before 6 years old, if the child has not heard of it, there is no need to broach the subject. On the other hand, if he asks questions, it is of course necessary to answer him with simple words that he understands, without going into details. In any case, we must not obscure reality or, worse, lie to it by saying, for example, that the man has had an accident. Whatever the subject, we can say everything to a child, without dramatizing and adapting his words, except a lie.
After 6 years, I advise parents to ask questions to find out exactly what the child has heard as information and to answer, again, according to his age and character. They can try to figure out what scares him. This allows you to stay as close as possible to your concern and not to say too much.
The main thing in these situations is to speak to your child with sincerity and with words in accordance with his emotions. If the parent is emotional, they should show it, even if it is not about breaking down into tears or getting angry.
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After discussing the facts, it is also very important to reassure the child. First by telling him that what happened is quite exceptional. Then, explaining to him that the police will find the villain and that he will be punished. It is a message of resilience that shows him that there is a law and that, despite the pain, we have the means to act.
And with a pre-teen or a teenager?
DC : With older children, I recommend starting a debate to help them express what they feel, especially since there may be an identification phenomenon since it happened in college. Some teens may display detachment, even laugh at it, but this is often a way to protect themselves. Or the sign that they do not realize the situation. In this case, parents must insist on the seriousness of the facts and demonstrate pedagogy. It is an opportunity to assert their values and to come back to the notion of respect, freedom of expression and acceptance of the other in his difference.
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After this barbaric act, some children may not want to go back to school. How to reassure them?
DC: Parents can accompany the child, if they have not already done so, without it becoming a new habit. But it is above all important to give him points of reference and tools to enable him to overcome his fear. We can organize ourselves with brothers and sisters, neighbors, friends to make the trip together. We can also tell him that there are a lot of people at school and that he is not alone or that he can shout very loudly if someone attacks him. When we approach the issue in a fun way, it goes very well and we realize that children do not lack the resources to protect themselves.