Any youngster can be traumatized by the arrest of a parent, sibling, or other loved one. While most children are aware of what an arrest entails, few, if any, are emotionally prepared to witness someone they care about being taken away by the police.
So, how can you explain an arrest to kids without instilling fear, grief, or resentment in them? Although there is no specific solution, several approaches can be used to assist children in coping with the emotional trauma of being arrested.
Protecting our children from the harsh truths of the world has always been the most important thing, but experience has shown that being genuine is preferable to inventing a pleasant fairy tale that will not stand up to scrutiny later. That doesn't mean we have to go into great detail, as some of these may be inappropriate for small children. However, when explaining a loved one's arrest, it's critical that the explanations you make are accurate.
The uncertainty that comes with a loved one's arrest is extremely difficult for a youngster to digest. If you're looking after a child whose parent or sibling has been arrested, try to see the bright side. Give an active interest in the child's life. Most especially, aspects of his life that are crucial to his sense of stability and well-being on a daily basis—sports, games, friends, school—whatever makes them feel connected and centered in the world. Organize a group phone call and have them speak with their loved ones, encouraging them with beautiful words and helping them see the good in themselves and the positive aspects of life. Above all, let them know that they are loved.
Kids should be enlightened with the basic understanding that an arrest is not always a result of being a crook. With the arrest of an individual, one a child loves and trusts, it might be difficult to change these views. "Does this indicate Daddy is a criminal? " a child may wonder. Just as certain actions are not acceptable at home or in school, so are some habits in society. Preschoolers who understand the concept of "time-out" and school-aged children who understand the concept of "detention" may be able to better handle the idea of an arrest if they think about it in these terms. This approach also highlights that an arrest is the outcome of a poor decision rather than being a horrible person.
Be concise and mindful of the choice of words used in conversing to not bring such a child an emotional trauma. As children get older, their emotional vocabularies expand. A teen's understanding and processing of information differ significantly from a younger child’s. As a result, customize your explanations to the child's age. Young children may believe it is their fault if a loved one is arrested. Assuage their fears by assuring them that this is not the case and that their loved one will be able to communicate with them again soon.
I hope these tips help you address the concerns the children in your family may have and hopefully ease the process of explaining an arrest.
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