For the past four years, Thrive Counseling Center has sponsored Thrive Talks, a series that offers a wide range of presentations focusing on topics of interest to our community. This year is no exception. Our first talk couldn’t be timelier. In the shadow of the recent Highland Park massacre, the numerous mass shootings nationwide, and the hatred on display in Charlottesville, we as adults are left with the task of explaining such horrific events to our children. How can we explain something to our children that we can’t even understand?

On Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. in the Veterans Room of the Oak Park Public Library, main branch (as well as live-streamed on the Thrive Facebook page). Dr. Laura Vecchiola, an expert on the topic of talking to children about traumatic events, will present: “Feeling Safe in an Unsafe World: How to talk to Children and Adolescents about Traumatic World Events.”

This talk will provide information for parents, caregivers, educators, and anyone else interested in learning how best to talk to children and adolescents about the frightening, and traumatic events that are happening in the world around us.

More now than ever, children are exposed to violence, death, and panic in the media. The idea that children are oblivious or unaffected by events that don’t directly impact them is a myth — children and adolescents are mentally and emotionally processing their experiences of school shootings, gun violence, climate change as well as natural disasters, images of war, and hateful rhetoric. Children across all developmental stages can be impacted by these events and, without proper support, an increase in anxiety, depression, hypervigilance, or behavioral problems can result.

In this talk, participants will learn how to approach these difficult topics of conversation, based on their child’s developmental level of understanding. Practical tips on how to start, navigate, and end conversations will be given. Participants will also learn ways they can provide comfort and re-establish a sense of safety in their child’s daily life. Finally, participants will learn how to look for signs of trauma or other emotional difficulties that may be an indication that their children need further support. While these conversations are never easy, by the end of this talk participants should feel better equipped to support their child and to be a safe, reassuring presence in the midst of a world where scary things can and do happen.

Please join us on Sept. 29 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Oak Park Public Library’s main branch or via the livestream on Facebook.

As with all Thrive Talks, there is no charge.

Steve Parker, LMFT, is chair of the Thrive Program Development Committee.

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