Q: It seems there’s always another tragedy being reported – even live-streamed. I’m concerned about how such things impact my children. Do you have any advice?
A: This world can be a scary place. Media is constantly filled with bad news – from natural disasters to acts of violence and terrorist threats. It’s tough enough to deal with these tragedies as adults, let alone talking to our children about them.
While parents shouldn’t draw attention to every troubling event in the news, some are so widely publicised they can’t be avoided. In those circumstances, it’s a good idea to proactively talk to your children using age-appropriate language. In as simple terms as possible, explain that hurt and pain are a part of our world. But strongly reassure them that you’ll always do everything in your power to protect them. Remind them that dedicated people (first responders, law enforcement, military) stand ready to support and defend us.
Keep in mind, too, that physical touch is an important part of these conversations. When children are feeling uncertain, a parent’s hug can go a long way toward calming their fears.
It’s important to invite your children to share what’s on their heart as well. Allow them to question or comment, but don’t overload them with information. Be sure to limit exposure to on-going coverage, particularly graphic video images. Finally, remember that various personality types and ages handle such events differently. Many children want to know how it all applies to their own lives, if they are safe and what they can do to help.
Helping children navigate troubling news isn’t easy, but caring, faithful parents can be a key source of strength, comfort, and security.
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