These are troubling times with all the violence and ugliness happening all over the world. Especially during 2016 with the election prompting such fierce public arguments, creating debates and disagreements impossible to ignore. Children, who are often more observant than we give them credit for, are going to look to you for assurance and answers.
Seeing coverage of upsetting events like terrorist attacks, mass shootings, and natural disasters might cause kids to worry that something similar could happen to them or their loved ones. It also can make them fear some aspect of daily life — like thunderstorms — that they never worried about before.
There will be times when you’re not sure what you should or should not say to your children or even how to say it. Since you are members of our family, we want to help you approach these discussions in the best way possible by providing the suggestions and additional resources below.
First and foremost, assure your children that you are willing to talk to them about anything that is on their minds. Take their comments seriously and validate their feelings. Instead of saying, “Don’t be afraid,” say, “I know that you’re feeling sad and scared, and I promise you that we are doing everything we can to make sure you’re safe.”
Second, regularly talk to your children about what is going on in the world and encourage them to ask questions. You may even watch the news with them, but keep in mind that some things may be inappropriate for them to see, and don’t be afraid to monitor what they watch. However, even if they don’t watch the news at home, they are sure to get information from their friends, online, and at school, and what they are hearing may not always be accurate. When you discuss current events with your children, you can make sure they understand the real story and help them understand how it fits into the context of larger situations, for example war or natural disasters. For older children, this is a great opportunity to talk about fact checking and reputable news sources. In any of your discussions, be sure to use age- and developmentally-appropriate language.
Third, help your children understand how they can provide support in these times of need, whether it be volunteering at a charity, donating to a specific cause, or standing up for a kid who is being bullied. In this way, your children can learn that in this crazy world, they don’t have to feel helpless and that we can get through anything when we join together as a community.
For additional ideas on how to talk to your children about the news, visit the following sites:
- PBS: "Talking with Kids About News"
- KidsHealth: "How to Talk to Your Child About the News"
- BabyCenter: "How to Talk to Your Preschooler About Violent Events in the News"
Please remember that throughout all of this, you and your children can reach out to anyone in the schools and parishes in the Archdiocese of Hartford. We are always here for you.
How are you talking about these issues with your children? Let us know on our social media pages.