Many families watched news footage of armed domestic terrorists storming the nation’s Capitol yesterday. On television, words like “coup” and “insurgency” were used. And that was all taking place near the spot where Black Lives Matter protesters were tear-gassed earlier this year. For adults, these were upsetting occurrences, but how is all of this affecting our children? And how do we explain what’s going on in the world to them without scaring them?
How to talk to younger kids about the news
First, consider your child’s age when determining what to share and what to allow them to watch, advises Common Sense Media (CSM), an organisation that assists families in raising children in the digital age. CSM recommends emphasising to youngsters that they are safe in its advice for explaining news to children. Also, because smaller children will draw their signals from you, be calm and sensible.
Preschoolers should be kept away from images that may be frightening to them, according to CSM. According to Maria Alvarez, VP of Common Sense Latino, elementary and middle school-aged children may be too young to comprehend the gravity of this historic moment.
“They don’t have the capacity to recognise reality vs. fiction,” she explained, “which is sort of scary for a young child to see.”
Alvarez said she’ll tell her 8-year-old child what happened at the Capitol, but she’ll pick and choose which photos to show her. Some families, especially those who live in smaller quarters, may find it difficult to keep their children safe while watching the news. “Do your best to have talks and put the facts in context,” she added if that’s the case.
Kathy Copcutt of Los Angeles was watching the news with her 7-year-old son on Wednesday. “He needs to be aware of what is going on in our world.” He’s witnessing history being made, and he’s a part of it. He needs to see what dysfunctional looks like up close and personal. ‘This is wrong,’ he says as he stands there observing. Isn’t this our nation’s capital? “Shouldn’t we follow the rules?” she asked Mom.com. “This is an opportunity to teach.”
How to talk to older kids about the news
The programmes on Wednesday are an opportunity to talk to youngsters about the media and our democracy, as well as ask them crucial questions about what’s going on in the country, according to Alvarez. One approach to begin the discussion is to contrast what happened last summer when Black Lives Matter protestors took to the streets around the country with what happened when rioters attacked the Capitol.
Despite employing physical force, tear gas, and pepper spray in reaction to rioters, experts and critics claim Capitol police were overwhelmed and unprepared. “What would have happened if today at the Capitol we had hundreds or thousands of Black people leading the protests?” she said. “That would be an excellent question to pique their interest in the injustices that are taking place.”
In reality, several news outlets published images of protestors being pushed back by police, shoved, and tear-gassed in the Capitol last summer, but some rioters were permitted to freely enter the Capitol on Wednesday.
Where do kids obtain their information? This is something to discuss with kids of all ages. Pictures and footage from the scene in Washington circulated throughout the day on social media. “What did you see and hear?” inquire your children. “How do you feel about what happened?”
“It’s history,” Alvarez added, “something that has never happened before.” Give them context for what they’re witnessing, and if possible, watch with them.
Another consideration is the amount of information they’re consuming from the media — and from you. While it may be tempting to watch the news 24 hours a day, consider the impact on your children and aim to keep some times — such as meals — TV and phone-free. “We have control over the amount of data we receive. The quantity of exposure is something we can control “Sesame Workshop’s senior vice president of curriculum and content, Rosemarie Truglio, spoke to NPR on guiding children through difficult news events.
Keep the dialogue open
We’ve started a new year, and a new president will take office shortly, but the news from this week isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Continue to speak with your younger children and check up with your teenagers. The news can influence your children at any age, and you want to reassure them that they are safe, according to CSM.
Copcutt claimed her kid had been asking her questions throughout the day, including if the individual he observed taking a podium would be apprehended.
“I don’t have an answer to some of these problems,” Copcutt added, “but I’m delighted he’s thinking about them.”
- How do you explain news to a child?
Answer Questions Honestly and Briefly
Tell the truth, but share only as much as your child needs to know. Try to calm any fears and help kids feel safe. …
Listen carefully. For some kids, hearing about an upsetting event or natural disaster might make them worry, “Could I be next? …
It’s OK to say you don’t know the answer.
- How do I tell my kids about news?
Opinion I How to talk to your kids about news?
Hear the questions out.
Stick to the truth and admit when you don’t know something.
No need to over share.
Reassure children, accept their feelings and share yours too.
Bring it closer to home.
Talk about good news too.
- How do you talk to kids about difficult news?
Guide the conversation
Think about what you want to say. It’s OK to practice in your head, to a mirror or with another adult. …
Find a quiet moment. Perhaps this is after dinner or while making the next day’s lunch. …
Find out what they know. …
Share your feelings with your child. …
Tell the truth. …
Above all, reassure.
- How do you talk to kids about today events?
8 Ways to Talk to Kids About Events in the News
By Samantha Cleaver. …
Limit Graphic Images. …
Explain What Happened. …
… But Don’t Over-explain. …
Take Fears Seriously. …
Learn Together. …
Be a Calming Influence. …
Keep Your Schedule.