Current Events: How to Talk to your Child about their World
Help your child feel safe while staying informed with these tips.
March 18, 2022
Our world can be a scary and confusing place at times, especially lately. From the pandemic to the Russia-Ukraine war, news is unavoidable. It is everywhere. Even if 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, for children it is harder, and they have a difficult time understanding.
However hard it is for them to understand, helping them to 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. Letting them be informed, helping them to understand the news and how to react and cope with it 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?
Communicate with them. Start a conversation. Find out what they already know. Make sure they are getting the right information and have an opportunity to share how they are feeling. Tell the truth, but only tell them what they need to know. Communicate in an open dialogue format, keeping the lines of communication open but age appropriate. Encourage them to talk if they want to, and encourage them to ask questions. If they are not phased by or interested in the news, don’t push it.
Support their feelings. Observe their behaviors to see how they may be feeling. Pay attention to your own feelings and behaviors and how you are presenting them—they feed off of and feel what we feel. Let them know you feel a certain way, too, and what they are feeling is normal. Acknowledge how they are feeling and talk to them about these feelings.
Give them hope and reassurance. Regardless of the news or current events, promise them you will keep them safe. Help them feel prepared by explaining what you can do to stay safe. Listen to them when discussing it to determine what they need to know or hear—are they afraid it will happen to them? What are they afraid of or worried about? Give them the assurance they need in order to cope with the news.
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.
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