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Talking to a Child about a Traumatic Event

Children these days are pretty smart and mature for their age as compared to us when we were young. There are certain things that we need to shield kids from and certain things we should inform them about. But how, when and where are the three imperative questions we need to address when we want to share certain life changing traumatic situations with them.

Last Friday my father fell and suffered a brain haemorrhage, and was admitted to the ICU. I was completely shattered and told my mom that I was coming immediately. The next step was to pack son’s and my stuff into the suitcase. There were several thoughts that were worrying me and two of the prominent ones were – how is my papa doing and what will I tell my son about this trauma that had befallen my family.

Somewhere inside my head came the thought that being honest was the best way to deal with him and the questions that would come with the disclosure. So here’s how I dealt with it.

How and what I told my son

When my son came back from school, he saw the suitcase on the bed and asked me “why are you packing and where are you going?” He also saw me making frantic calls as well receiving calls, which he thought was not normal. That was my cue and I told him that we were both going to visit his naanu who had fallen in the bathroom and was in hospital. His little mind was working and he didn’t ask any further questions, and got ready without much fuss after that. So I began with my sorting things out – ticket printout, packing my laptop, enough clothes for both of us and one pair of shoes each.

His reaction to the situation

My son A is a normal 6 year old with a curious mind and talkative nature. So when I told him that we are going by flight he was excited about the plane ride and was not really bothered about the situation that lay ahead. So he was shocked to see me breakdown and cry. A has not seen me crying like that before and en route to the airport my son kept calming with his with words “mom please don’t cry, naanu will be fine.”

A had a mixed reaction to the entire situation – on one hand he was excited about the plane ride and on the second hand he was worried for his mom. So I had to stay strong for him throughout the journey. But kids are quite sensitive to their parent’s mood swings, so A also got the feeling that something was not right and kept assuring me that everything would be fine. I was amazed by the maturity of my son.


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Swati Nitin Gupta is a journalist with extensive experience in writing for newspapers, tabloids, magazines and online media in India as well as Middle East. She has written on a range of topics, from human interest stories to event coverage to features on topics like fashion, beauty, women, children, travel and general health issues. As an Indian Army officer's daughter, Swati has been been exposed to the various cultures and lifestyles of different states of the country – knowledge of which she tries to incorporate in her writing. Swati also maintains her personal blogs at swatisays.wordpress.com and swati1012.wordpress.com.

One thought on “Talking to a Child about a Traumatic Event

  1. Shobhika Jaju

    Kids these days are definitely much smarter than we credit them for… and this point comes across beautifully through this article.


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