How to talk to kids about our violent world

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How to talk to kids about our violent world

When discussing current events, consider child’s age, developmental stage
Check your anxiety level before talking to your children about upsetting news. Children can be very perceptive to how their parents are feeling.

How to talk to kids about our violent world

Check your anxiety level before talking to your children about upsetting news. Children can be very perceptive to how their parents are feeling.
What you can say and do

Upsetting life events are often beyond our control, but as parents, we have a duty to protect and inform our children when bad things happen. Here are some tips for parents about how to talk to their children about things beyond our control:
Check your anxiety level before talking to your children about upsetting news. Children can be very perceptive to how their parents are feeling, so make sure you are calm, reassuring and confident if and when you choose to discuss upsetting topics.Consider your audience. Regardless of the concerning or upsetting information we as parents receive from the media, we must always be mindful of what our children are capable of handling before discussing things. Thus, your child’s age, maturity level and threshold for worry/anxiety are all things to consider before discussing terrorism. Just as you would not discuss tragic natural disasters or death in the same way with 4-, 8- or 16-year-old children because of developmental differences, you would not do the same for the topic of ISIS with your children of varying ages. Teach your children about upsetting events. By educating your children about natural disasters, tragedies or terrorism, they will understand things better, which in turn will serve to decrease their anxiety. It is important to be clear and accurate with the information you share, and keep your points and message simple. With terrorism for older children, for example, you could discuss the history of particular groups and what started the reactions. For a younger child, simply introducing the concept of good vs. evil is a way to help the child begin to understand why people sometimes do bad things in the world. Using movie characters or actual events that may have occurred in your child’s life (e.g., a bullying episode) may also prove helpful.
For children 8 years and older, the Newseum in Washington has a wonderfully informative exhibition, “Inside Today’s FBI.” It explores the ways in which the bureau is fighting terrorism and cybercrime. From Sept. 11 to the Boston Marathon bombing and various other crimes and cybercriminals, older children and teens can learn about terrorism through the mixed media and actual artifacts from those tragedies.
Minimize your children’s exposure to the media. Turn off the news! Widespread exposure can cause increased anxiety for our children.Put an action or emergency plan in place within the home. Having an action plan will help your child to get a sense of control, which in turn should also serve to diminish anxiety.Do not give in to fear. It is important to keep things in perspective and to not give in to irrational thoughts and feelings. Michael Oberschneider for The Washington Post.

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