Talking to Children About Violence in the News
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” -Fred Rogers
These are not easy times for our society. Turning on the news means exposing yourself to stories of natural disasters, tensions between and within countries, and violence. Staying informed about the happenings of our world can (understandably) lead any adult to feel helpless and fearful. How, then, must it feel to be a child right now? How can we keep our children informed and safe without overwhelming them? What do they need to know, when do they need to know it, and how should it be conveyed to them?
These decisions are largely personal ones that are for you as a parent to make; after all, few people know your child better than you. Some children may be ready for information at different ages than others, and even children within the same family mature at different rates. While it can be difficult to control what information your child learns from his or her peers, you have the ability to decide what your child learns about in your home. You can also control what conversations you have with your child to assist him or her in processing whatever feelings come up.
PBS has created an insightful resource for addressing the topic of violence with children of all ages. Take a look at the link to learn ways to broach the topic of violence with your kids, to get age-by-age suggestions as to what your child can developmentally understand, and information on how to know if your child would benefit from seeking professional help. Difficult news has the ability to cause people to feel alone, but through talking with your child, you have the ability to show him or her that you are present and ready to listen.