Tips for Helping Kids During the Trial of Derek Chauvin:
A Conversation with Dr. Gigi Chawla

The trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd is getting national attention and will likely be a topic of conversation in many homes over the next several weeks.

Many parents are wondering: what impact could this have on kids and their mental and emotional health? During the time of the trial, this could be re-traumatizing for some children, especially those that identify as black, indigenous and children of color.

Dr. Gigi Chawla, chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota, provides advice for families during this challenging time.

What is the best way for parents to handle the news of the trial?

Prepare kids for what they may see and hear

There is a lot of media coverage on this trial—nationally and internationally. Due to the physical preparations the city has made, some families may be directly impacted. All of this can be overwhelming to kids, and it’s important to be mindful of this. If it feels overwhelming to you, it is more than overwhelming for kids, too.

Make Time to Talk

Make sure to set aside time and check in with your kids. “Lean into this. This is your opportunity to hear how kids are processing this, to understand where they’re at in their thinking,” said Dr. Chawla. Allow kids to express their feelings openly and honestly.

Have Open Conversations

It’s important to not shelter children from the news. Instead, use it to start a conversation about race, racism and structural racism. “You don’t have to be an expert on this at all, none of us are,” said Dr. Chawla. These are going to be hard conversations.

Take the opportunity to show that you are listening so kids get the message that we all need to continue learning—whether you’re a child or an adult.

What if my child wants to be part of a protest or movement?

Movements and expanded thinking typically start with kids and young people—kids change us for the better. It’s important to help kids find a way to be engaged safely. Dr. Chawla said, “There’s all sorts of opportunities for kids to be involved.”

Here’s a great example and idea: Last year in Louisville, Ky., there was a children’s march advocating for justice for Breonna Taylor. Consider one in your neighborhood so kids can participate while still staying safe from COVID-19 (wear masks, social distance, etc.).

Other ideas:

  • Join an equity and inclusion group at their school.
  • Write a letter to their representative in Congress.
  • Contribute art to a memorial.
This feels overwhelming. How can I help my child through that?

First, balance is important. Parents will need to help kids find ways to stay informed while also unplugging from media at times.

Second, encourage other activities. In the evenings or weekends, get outside, go for a walk, go to the playground, read a book or play a game. Parents need to take care of themselves too; if you are anxious or angry, kids are going to be affected.

Finally, watch for physical symptoms that kids are stressed or overwhelmed. These symptoms can range from behavioral changes to sleep changes to stomach pains. If you see any of these indicators, reach out to your child’s pediatrician for guidance.

A version of this post was originally published by Children’s Minnesota. Read the original article here.

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