Christchurch Terror Attack: Kiwi expert Nigel Latta explains how parents can best talk to their children about the Christchurch attack

Publish Date
Monday, 18 March 2019, 1:20PM

In the wake of the tragic Christchurch terror attack – which has taken the lives of 50 people – many parents around the country were left asking: ‘what do I tell my kids?’

Kiwi phycologist and author Nigel Latta spoke with Laura, Sam and Toni on the things parents can do to help their children process this horrific occurrence.

First Latta said parents need to walk a fine line between being open with their children about what has happened and shielding them from the constant news reports.

"It’s important to talk with them about it and not just brush it off and pretend that nothing has happened," he said. "On the other hand too, I think it’s important to shield them from a lot of the constant media reporting."

"If you’ve got little kids just don’t watch the news," he added. "It serves no purpose for you and your children to be vicariously traumatised by these [harrowing] stories."

While Nigel admitted that "there is going to be different things for different ages" and that different "children will be worried about different aspects" he advised that it was important to remind them that "most people are good".

"One of the things you can do when they’re asking about why people do things like this is you can say: 'look, the truth is there is this person who did this really terrible thing … but most people aren’t like that, most people are good'. Most people are taking flowers down to mosques and thinking about how they can help the Muslim community feel safer."

"The conversation can change to 'actually, there are people who do bad things, but most people, most people are good, most people are kind and most people want to help'."

Nigel explained that "having a reaction to this stuff is perfectly normal" and that some simple mindfulness techniques that can help make your children feel relaxed and calm, including simple breaking exercises and switching on music they enjoy instead of TV news reports.

Finally, Nigel encouraged Kiwis to stand up against casual racism and Islamophobia.

"If we want to change the terrible dynamics that lead into stuff like this it starts with illuminating and acceptance of casual racism," he said.

Read The Parenting Place's article on 'How to talk to your kids about it: Trauma'.