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The FMS community extends its condolences to all who have been directly or indirectly impacted by the tragedy at Bondi Junction over the weekend.

While we all attempt to comprehend the sadness and gravity of this tragedy, we are mindful how incomprehensible and frightening this is for our children. 

No matter how we attempt to protect children, they will inevitably be exposed to news and media. At such times, it’s important to consider children’s emotional responses and how we can best support them. This article is adapted from a previously shared blog, to help you support your children to navigate difficult times. 

Observe their emotions

Here’s a story: after spending time creating an artwork masterpiece, your child realises it won’t turn out as they planned. Tears fall and turn into sobs, then exclamations that this is the worst day of their lives. They are inconsolable.

Why are they making such a big deal out of something so small?

This response may seem over the top, but remember, children are still learning to express themselves and identify their own emotions. A heightened emotional outburst may be their way to express feelings of overwhelm, worry or frustration at not understanding what’s happening around them.

While we learn to manage our own emotions, this is harder for our children. Knowing this can help us find the empathy our children need from us in unsettling times.

Take time 

Our lives typically move at a rapid pace. There is not a lot of time to absorb, process and respond to everything we experience – especially difficult emotions. If we continue rushing and moving through regular life and schedules, we can miss signs (like the one above) that our children are not coping well.

Take time to observe your children’s responses so you can respond appropriately. Watch for heightened emotional reactions that suggest your child is struggling. Listen to their concerns. Answer questions openly and honestly. If it is something you cannot answer or are struggling with too, share your vulnerability.

Allowing your children to feel seen and heard gives them the sense of safety and security they crave in difficult times.

Give time

Sharing our own time can be difficult when we have work and family obligations.  Children are busy with school and sport and so on. However, in times of difficulty and confusion it’s important to be with our children, above and beyond simply ‘doing life.’

As much as you can, be with your child.  Be there to listen, be there to play, be there to snuggle when it all feels too much. Show them that even though the world is unpredictable, you are there. It can be as simple as going for a walk, baking a cake or rereading your favourite books together.

Giving children your time helps them feel supported, safe and connected.

Be honest (but age-appropriate)

Our children are smart and pick up on more than we realise. Don’t try to hide what’s going on but give them information specific to their age and stage. How much does your child need to know? How much do they already know?

You know your child best. Turn off the TV news and radio. Give your children the most information you can to help them feel informed, but not more than you think they can handle. Be open for questions. Let them know when you don’t have an answer or if you’re not comfortable talking about certain things.

Another important element of honesty right now: let your children in on your own emotions. There is no need to burden them with things they are not ready to handle, but it’s a good thing to show them that even adults get scared. We have moments of worry, confusion, and frustration. Let them see that and consider those moments as opportunities to model ways to appropriately express and process unpleasant emotions.

Highlight the positive

Whether you point out little things in the moment or make a more formal practice each evening as a family, finding ways to focus on what’s good in the world is helpful for everyone. Some ideas:

  • Highlight the ways people and communities support one another in times of heartache
  • Share stories of kindness
  • Encourage your children to perform acts of kindness. Plan how you can do these together
  • At dinner, have everyone share one or two good things about their day
  • Use the benefits of nature to regulate emotion (See more on that here). Take advantage of bush walksshorelines, and parks.

Keep close 

Ultimately, you want to keep the connections open with your child and be there if and when they need you.

Keep observing, keep talking, keep giving and keep it positive. If you feel out of your depth or that your child needs more than you can give, remember there  are many avenues for professional guidance and support. Engage these sooner than later.

If you have other ideas to help children in difficult times, please share them with us.


“The child builds his innermost self out of the deeply held impressions he receives.” Dr Maria Montessori

Want to learn more about the benefits of the Montessori philosophy? Book a virtual tour and have a chat with me today!

Denice Scala

Author Denice Scala

B.A, M.Ed, Dip ED, Dip RSA, Cert. Neuroscience. Principal, Forestville Montessori School. Denice Scala is an executive leader with extensive experience in key strategic roles requiring business transformation and innovation. As a passionate advocate for the power of education to enrich lives, Denice moved from classroom teaching to leadership positions in 1992 and since then has held international in roles in Scotland and Australia as Principal, Head of Junior School, and Head of Learning Support. She has an impressive working knowledge of early learning, primary, middle, and secondary schooling including gifted education and special needs. Her Masters in Gifted Education led her to work extensively to find ways to cater for gifted students. This led to providing professional development opportunities for educators to assist in their understanding of the characteristics of gifted children and the complexities of growing up gifted. Denice’s unparalleled grasp of current educational realities is equally matched by her big picture thinking combined with practical solutions to navigate change. Denice’s passion for Montessori education led her to undertake the AMI Introduction to Adolescents Course, to audit the AMI 6-12 Diploma, and to also currently undertake the AMI School Administration Certificate Course.

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