The devastating 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes, whose epicenter was Kahramanmaraş and affected 10 provinces, had a psychological impact on the entire society, especially on children. Child and adolescent psychiatry specialist Dr. Canan İnce Börekçi warned parents about children witnessing the process of earthquakes on screen. Stressing the importance of talking to children about earthquakes and disasters, specialist Dr. Börekçi said: “Especially talking about the earthquake should not be avoided. Because the sense of insecurity in children; what he went through, why he lived, these can increase children’s anxiety. For this reason, what is the earthquake, why did it happen, how does it happen, what kind of disaster is it? Information can be provided.
It is also valuable to steer clear of discourses that increase feelings of hopelessness in children. Sometimes we parents may think that in such traumatic events, children experience the event as we think and feel. The only way to understand this is to talk about it, to communicate. We can start by conveying our own feelings as we communicate.”
Börekçi stated that especially preschool children can draw different conclusions from such events and said: “It is especially important to talk about thoughts. Because children can draw different conclusions from such events. Preschoolers in particular may see these negative experiences as the result of their own mistakes. For example, he may think that something like this happened to him as a result of mischief he did a week ago.
When we talk about the event, we eliminate this misconception and lack of information. Children need closeness more than ever during this period. Being in skin-to-skin contact as much as possible, holding your hand, hugging, cuddling, showing interest and compassion are very important trust needs. We attach great importance to them trying to maintain their daily routine, acquiring activities in their daily lives and performing play activities in the safest possible conditions.
Börekçi stressed the importance of proper handover to the missing children when explaining what death is, saying: “Sometimes children can see death as a reversible event, especially in the preschool period. For this reason, he can pretend that this did not happen. On the contrary, it is very valuable to pretend that it did not happen, not to hide it, but to inform the child about it correctly, to give information appropriate to his/her age and development.
It is very valuable to send the message that death and loss are not irreversible phenomena. But it is very valuable to give messages that he will always love the person he loves and that he can always think about it. We’ve all been exposed to on-screen trauma and earthquakes. It is valuable for them to protect their children from content that is too detailed, scary and hopeless, and to keep children away from traumatic experiences in front of the screen.”