Parents are wondering how to explain many tragic/violent events that are covered in the media to their children. Parents want to protect their children but they also want to have influence and be a support to their child as they face the realities of this world. Here are some tips to guide you as you communicate with the varying ages of children in your family.
For younger kids, model calm and clearly communicate that they’re safe, even if what they’re seeing or hearing is scary. Don’t let news stories repeatedly play in front of the children, let them hear it from you and then encourage them to go about their important childhood focuses, such as play.
For school-age kids, provide them an opportunity to tell you what they saw/heard and ask any questions that are on their mind. Provide empathy and answer questions honestly-but limiting details, concretely and with age appropriate words.
For teenagers and young adults, discuss healthy ways to channel their emotions and voice what they believe in. Give them examples of how you cope with the stress of tragic/violent events happening in our world. Encourage your teen to have balance through focusing on good things in their life and making a difference through volunteering.
For kids of all ages, help them make sense of how these events fit into our world’s history in an honest, age-appropriate way. Open up the opportunity for them to always feel free to come to you with questions and emotions about things they hear in the media. Model balance by getting away from screens and media input and engaging in self-care and family time. Empower your child and teen to be the change they want to see in the world.