We can control the amount of information. We can control the amount of exposure. While it's important to limit your kids' exposure to potentially frightening media, some stories are simply too big to avoid. And as kids get older, if they don't hear about it at home, they'll almost certainly hear something from a friend or family member. adults should choose a quiet moment to check in with their kids, maybe at the dinner table or at bedtime. Ask questions about what they're seeing, how they're feeling and what do they think. In other words: Give kids a safe space to reflect and share.
Validate your child’s feelings and give them appropriate reassurances. Children can have many emotional reactions to dealing with the uncomfortable or unsettling topics on the news. Be sure to validate their feelings (e.g., “It makes sense that you feel outraged by these events. I do too.”). This gives children security and comfort and will help you, as the parent or caregiver, achieve better conversational outcomes. Helpful validation starters include, “I hear you,” “I understand,” or “It makes sense that..” Additionally, you can give your child time to process the new information by utilizing relevant tactics to help them comprehend the situation better. For example, drawing, painting, or acting out stories with toys can all be helpful tools for children in the expression of their thoughts and feelings related to the news.
Ultimately, children pick up on cues from adults, and parents/caregivers must model appropriate reactions to the events on the news. Information should be shared calmly and concisely with your child. This helps model for your child that they can feel comfortable discussing hard topics with you. Being calm doesn’t mean that parents need to hide all of their feelings – it is important for your child to see that you are human and have feelings too! It is also okay to take time for yourself to process what you are seeing before you discuss with your child. This helps to show that these are topics that are of serious concern to you too.
If you and your children embrace these conversations, consider taking action as a family activity:
Posts written by the Team ELM family!