With frightening news stories constantly being broadcasted on the radio, TV and social media sites, it’s certainly hard for anyone to ignore. The news can be scary and often overwhelming for children, especially as lots of the stories are difficult for them to understand and include negative, violent or terrifying content. As it’s hard to completely stop your kids being exposed to the news, it’s extremely important to regularly discuss these world events with them from time to time and make sure the frightening information is put into a reasonable context. Here’s some important areas to keep in mind when talking to your children about the news.
Why is talking about news with your kids important?
The TV often has the effect of shrinking the world and bringing it into our own living rooms. With channels often concentrating on negative, violent or devastating news, it can provide kids with an inaccurate view of society and what the world is really like. As there is no real way to escape the news, it’s important to discuss the news with your kids regularly to make sure they have a realistic understanding and it also gives you the opportunity to comfort them and provide any guidance they need.
Even though it’s really difficult to completely stop your children being exposed to the news, there’s no harm in trying, especially with youngsters. It can be very tricky for them to rationalise what they’re seeing, so trying to limit their exposure as much as possible will avoid them getting very upset and in some cases distressed. Do this by keeping an eye on their TV habits and monitoring what content they have access to on other devices such as tablets and smartphones. If your kids are going to be watching the news, try to accompany them whilst doing so.
Have regular discussions
Make sure you’re having regular discussions with your child about the events that are happening in the world. This makes sure they’re not secretly worrying and provides them the opportunity to open up and discuss their fears or concerns. Ask them what they think about a particular situation or if there’s a particularly distressing news story getting a lot of coverage. Acknowledging their feelings and letting them know that it’s okay to feel angry, upset or confused may be helpful. Trying to get them to talk about why they’re feeling this way will also provide them with a wider understanding of the story. Make sure you’re alert for signs of stress though- if there is something really worrying your child, it’s important to provide comfort and make sure they feel safe.
As a voice of authority for your child, it’s super important to be as informed as possible, as they will put trust in what you are telling them. Having a good understanding of the issues in the news will mean you will be in a better position to discuss them.
To calm your children’s fears about the news, you should be prepared to deliver the truth, but only as much as they really need to know. This honesty will not only help your kids feel safe, but at the same time going into unnecessary details may cause distress and be even more confusing.
Put news into context
Putting news stories into context is key in helping your kids understand what is actually going on and realising they most likely don’t need to worry or fear a certain situation. Do this by explaining that certain events are isolated or perhaps discuss how one event links to another.
Talk about how kids can make a difference
Finally, talking about what your kids can do to help after a tragic event is a great way to help them gain a wider sense of understanding and make them gain a sense of control. Often there are ways anyone can contribute, especially after a tragic event. Check local, national and international organisations who are looking for donations or just a helping hand.