Counselors encourage explaining pandemic, racial injustices to children

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Stress and anxiety during a pandemic is now being compounded as many deal with the emotional toll of racial injustices.

Through it all, counselors say there’s a very important set of eyes watching how you handle things.

“I think as adults, we recognize children are smart, and they pick up on the signs, and they recognize when things aren’t the same, or their routine has been interrupted,” said Justin Dodson with Youth Villages.

From school closures to social distancing from family and friends, COVID-19 has changed how we do everything.

There’s now another type of unrest following the death of George Floyd as protests happen here and around the country.

Counselors said it’s equally important to explain this type of change to your children.

“No matter what, it’s all about transparency, and it’s just how you package that information based on the developmental functioning of that kid,” Dodson said.

As you process what you see, Dodson said it’s important to help your child do the same.

“We are experiencing, especially people of color are experiencing vicarious traumatization by seeing a lot of these harsh messages and videos on a daily basis,” Dodson said. “It’s coming at us nonstop.”

He said that’s why it’s important to be intentional about their exposure.

“Similarly to parents only allowing their children some TV time or some video game time, I think the same principle should go into effect when talking about receiving messages regarding racial injustices as well as COVID-19 because a lot of anxiety and fear comes along with receiving these messages,” Dodson said.

He said to not fear difficult conversations about race but realize that ultimately it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.

“I think it’s all about modeling the behavior that we want to see and people being kind to one another as well as themselves,” Dodson said.

Counselors also said it’s important to designate a time for children to do things they enjoy and get outside.

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