TeacherLists Blog

How to Talk to your Child About Their World

talking to your child about the world


Our world can be a scary and confusing place at times; especially lately, news is unavoidable. Even when we try our best to shield our children from tragic events or news, it is impossible to completely shut it out. As hard as it is for adults to process the news, it’s even harder for children.

However hard it is, helping them to understand is important. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.” Our children are our future. Informing them in age-appropriate ways is essential.

So, how do we keep them feeling safe when the world doesn’t seem very safe? What is the best thing we can do when things happen?

Start the conversation.

  • Carve out time specifically to talk to your child. There’s no telling how long a difficult conversation will last– they may have no questions, they may have one hundred. As such, be mindful of the time you choose to start the conversation. True, there’s no “perfect time” to deliver bad news or raise an uncomfortable topic, but some times are better than others. For example, it may be best to avoid nighttime when everyone is tired or commutes when your time is limited.
  • Use an aid if you need one. There are plenty of children’s books that tackle tough subjects, and it can help you ease into the conversation instead of starting cold.
  • When you start the conversation, ask your child what they already know. Sometimes, they hear about things from their peers before you have the chance to bring it up. Other times, they know nothing. Either way, meet them where they’re at and correct any misinformation they may have.
  • Sometimes, your child will come to you with specific questions about a topic you haven’t discussed yet. It can be surprising, but remember that school is just as much of the “real world” as anywhere else; it’s their world. So, listen to what they have to say, and answer their questions honestly. If they catch you at a bad time, reassure them that this is important to you and agree to talk at a different time.

Support their feelings.

  • Observe their behaviors. After receiving bad news or learning about a tragic event, children can display symptoms of anxiety and depression. Check in with them regularly if you notice these behaviors, and talk with their doctor about next steps when necessary.
  • Assure your child that you will keep them safe. Ultimately, that’s all they want to hear from a parent or caregiver.
  • Encourage play and social interaction. This is especially important if you notice your child isolating themselves after the discussion.
  • Listen to their concerns. Are they worried something bad will happen to them? Are they worried something bad will happen to you? Allow them to vent as they need to, and tell them they can always come to you with their feelings.

Limit their exposure.

  • Consider your child’s age and what is appropriate for them to hear and watch. Watch the news with them and discuss it as you watch it. Set limits on how much they watch, keeping in mind overexposure can cause anxiety and fear.

Originally posted 2023

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