COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – As the war in the Middle East continues to unfold, experts are saying that any emotions people may feel are normal. But when it comes to how to handle those emotions, or how parents should talk to their children, experts are offering advice.
It’s almost impossible to avoid seeing images from the Middle East, however, it’s important for people to take care of their mental health.
“It makes sense that many people are having an emotional reaction to what’s going on in the world,” said Arianna Galligher, associate director of the STAR Trauma Recovery Center, “That’s actually a sign of health that we have the capacity to have empathy for the suffering of other people.”
Everyone reacts differently to situations, but historic events like this can take quite a toll.
“I’m seeing folks who have a significant amount of anxiety, maybe an anxiety disorder who find this acutely triggering,” said Dr. Scott Gspandl, OhioHealth psychiatry.
For parents, having conversations with their child about what’s going on is important, but they should be aware of where their child is developmentally.
“Kids will often hear about this stuff. Little kids, you have a lot more control, but the older kids will often start to hear about this from friends and other places,” said Dr. William Leever, Pediatric Psychologist at Nationwide Childrens. “So, for example, if you’re talking to a little kid, you don’t want to get into all the details of all the tough stuff that’s going on. You can be vague, that’s totally fine. So, saying things like ‘sometimes bad things happen, and we are safe here.’ So, you’re reassuring your kids safety.”
If parents notice their child is having trouble sleeping or waking up, or struggling to focus, those may be signs they’re experiencing anxiety.
It’s also important for adults to take care of themselves first. Children not only pay attention to what their parents say, but how they respond to certain situations.
“It’s important to create community and to check in with each other and know that we are not going through this by ourselves,” Galligher said.
The STAR program at the Wexner Medical Center is also another helpful resource.