The trial of Derek Chauvin and guilty verdict in the death of George Floyd is likely a topic of conversation in many homes. In addition, the killings of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center and Adam Toledo in Chicago continue to weigh heavily on the community.
Many parents are wondering what impact this could have on their kids. Dr. Gigi Chawla, chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota, provides advice for families during this challenging time.
Dr. Chawla on WCCO
How can I emotionally support my child right now?
Now that we have a verdict, we have to think about what kids need right now.
Working through all emotions
Kids and parents have all been on an emotional rollercoaster. “Just take the time necessary for you as parents to go through your own emotions,” said Dr. Chawla.
And then help kids of all ages process their emotions also. Younger kids are feeling and responding to your emotions. Older kids are using their peers and budding independent thoughts, and experiencing their own emotions.
It’s important to remember, this trial and verdict can be re-traumatizing for some children and adults, especially black, indigenous and children of color. “Many kids have been re-traumatized along this trial, others have expressed anxiety awaiting the verdict, and now have a tidal wave of emotion that is just hard to process,” Dr. Chawla said.
You may have kids who suddenly have behavior, sleep or appetite changes. As parents, just pause on trying to make it better for them and instead just listen and acknowledge the feelings that may be contributing to these changes.
Some kids may need help with the emotional journey of finally getting to this point, we recommend reaching out to your pediatrician to help your child through this challenging time.
The verdict has come, but what about what’s next?
As we know, the trial of the other officers involved in the death of George Floyd, the sentencing trial for Chauvin, and future legal proceedings involving police are still to come. You may be wondering, how we as parents support kids through this?
Kids are going to need a balance and agency to get through these multiple events.
Find time to let kids be kids, for exercise and outdoor time just being in nature and exploring the world. All of these things can relieve anxieties and improve mental health.
As you may have seen, there was a state-wide walkout at Minnesota schools on Monday, April 19, 2021, to protest against racial injustice and the killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center on April 11, 2021. According to the Star Tribune, “The walkout, organized by a group called Minnesota Teen Activists and coordinated primarily on Instagram, began at 1 p.m. and included a moment of silence at 1:47 p.m., the time of Wright’s death.”
That is just one way kids are getting involved.
“As a parent, it is scary to think about your child being in the middle of any activity. But recognize that movements typically start with kids and young people — kids change us for the better.”
While part of this trial is over, systemic racism is still present.
“Help kids tear down barriers in whatever way works for them: expand friendship circles, set goals for personal learning, consider donations, attend peaceful gatherings with your kids while remembering masks and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Chawla.
As a parent, what should I take away from the Chauvin trial and how can I help my kids?
First, love and support your kids. Listen and acknowledge their emotions. In times of so much change, be their rock. Second, be a great teacher. Take what we have collectively learned from this, impart that to our children and help them see that they need to be part of community healing and ongoing change for equity.
And, finally, to keep learning and listening. Help kids by seeking out diverse voices, authors and books to continue learning.