To put it simply, there is a lot of scary stuff going on in the world. News of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been dominating the news channels for months. This summer, the development of ISIS made it into mainstream media. Only last week Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was senselessly murdered in what is being called an act of terrorism. The world is not the same place it was when I was growing up. I can’t imagine being a child today, trying to make sense out of nonsense. Parents today have the difficult job of trying to explain world events, while still instilling a sense of safety and security in their children. Here are a couple of tips for talking with your children (or any child) about upsetting events.
1.Get educated. If you don’t understand what is going on in the world, how are you supposed to explain it to a child? Kids are full of questions and by no means should you have all of the answers. Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know, but then educate yourself to find out the answer.
2.Be honest but age appropriate. There is a lot of conflict and terror going on in the world that many of us adults can’t wrap our head around, let alone a child. Share the short version of events – give the basics of what is happening but don’t provide all the details.
3.Reassure them of their safety. Kids may become upset about world events if they feel like their safety is threatened. Talk about the precautions that are in place to help keep them safe. Talk about the great care they get from their doctor, the great teachers they have that care for them, and most importantly highlight your role as a parent and adult to be there to help and guide them.
4.Be generous with affection. When kids are worried or upset some extra cuddles or affection can go a long way in helping them feel cared for.
At the end of day, one of the most important things you can do for your child is let them know that they have lots of time to worry about adult things and for now they can just enjoy being a kid.