My 5 year old daughter has complained a few times that she just can't get things out of her mind ("I can't get it out of my mind daddy" and she is visibly quite distressed). I'd like to share two separate incidents (6 months apart) where she said this and was distressed and crying inconsolably.
We visited a lake for a picnic and there was a plaque dedicated to the memory of someone. My 7 year old had to read out loud what was written on the plaque to show how his reading skills were top notch. Sadly enough, the plaque was dedicated to the memory of a family whose boat drowned in the lake and read something along the lines of "dedicated to the memory of A,B,C and D who went out on their boats and never returned".
-On the way back "I can't get it out of my mind daddy. Their boat just sank"
She happened to see few seconds of a movie where in there was a (chase) scene where an ambulance was rushing to a hospital and bumps into other cars on the way. No blood or any other violence as such.
-"I can't get it out of my mind, why did the ambulance have to rush and hit other cars on the way"
Things I have tried so far :
Matter of fact: Asked her if this "not letting go off from your mind" is a result of she learning this from her friends, cartoons or other videos she has watched. She says no. About the movie, I remind her that telly is for entertainment and what we watch mostly, is entertainment and wasn't necessarily real. Draw parallels with other cartoon shows where silly things are done just to make viewers laugh. Explained ambulances are supposed to rush to the hospital to be able to help people in need.
About the plaque, explained to her that long time ago boats weren't as stable as they are now. Draw parallels to mud houses vs concrete houses. Also explained about life jackets and lifebuoys and how important safety is. Explained technological advancement and how they could have taken a walkie talkie and called for help. There were no mobile phones and they couldn't call for help.
Compartmentalise: During a chat while discussing the "not able to let go of things" I ask her to recall the colour of the wall in her bedroom. When she does, I remind her that somethings are just information in the brain. You can recall it when you want and while it is in your brain it doesn't really have to bother you. Just like she doesn't always just keep thinking about the colour of her bedrooms wall, she can train her brain to put this stuff that bothers her at the back of the brain.
Breathe: Ask her to take 5 deep breaths when she feels distressed.
Divert attention: Ask her to think about her best friend or favourite teacher or how the neighbours dog loves her when she takes it for a walk. And ask her to talk about that for a minute.
All of the above have failed as she keeps saying "I don't know what to do, I just can't get it out of my head". I am of course very concerned that this currently bothers her so much and am scared will become a personality trait and how it could affect her whole life. At 5 years of age this seems a bit too much for her. I think she's also just a tad too young for a psychologist. As a parent what can I do to facilitate her letting go of things? Would also appreciate any other words of advice.