This Just In...
It's a difficult time in America as the COVID pandemic, unemployment, food insecurity, protests, demonstrations and horrifying acts of racism and violence. It can be difficult to know what to say or what questions to ask. All youth need to process these events, hear from their peers and adults about experiences that may not mirror their own, and think about their roles in creating a more just and inclusive society. Boys & Girls Clubs provide safe spaces for youth to discuss these incidents with positive staff.
Here are some ways that you can initiate dialogue with your children and young people:
Address the Incident Directly
Show teens that you understand what is on their mind and are here to support them by initiating dialogue about the incident. Don't wait for teens to come to you to strike up conversation, instead ask them direct questions such as:
"Tell me what you've heard about [the incident]?"
"What do you know about [the incident] that took place this week?"
"What have you seen or heard about [the incident] on the news or on social media?"
Show A Willingness to Answer Questions
It is important for teens to know that you are here to support them and that they view you as a resource. Make sure to show willingness to talk and answer questions about the incident by saying things such as:
"I am here to talk and answer any questions you may have about [the incident]."
"I know that this is an upsetting time for many of you, please know that I am here to answer any questions or concerns you have about [the incident]."
"Does anyone have any questions about what happened during [the incident]?
Validate and Listen to Feelings
Ask teens to share their feelings about the incident, and respond with empathy. It is also important to respond with validation that you are listening, without directly telling them how they should feel or that you know how they feel. Here are some helpful prompts:
"It sounds like you are feeling [sad/upset/scared] about this [incident]."
"Do you feel safe at school, the Club, and our community? What is it that you're worried about?"
It is important to validate why teens are feeling the way they are – if we just discount their feelings with throwaway statements such as "You are going to be fine" or "I know how you feel," we shut down the conversation and teens may no longer feel safe bringing up their emotions.
The Boys & Girls Club of Vista is here to help kids be resilient and overcome these incredibly tough times. We're doing whatever it takes!