We live in a world where news is everywhere. And most of the time, that news is not taking little ears (or brains) into consideration. Here are some tips on how to approach handling the impact of the news on the little ones around you and how to respond if/when they ask you big questions you may not be ready for.
1. Kids Can and Do Handle Big Concepts
Just maybe not the big words. If you cut the jargon typically used, what does the situation ultimately boil down to? The geo-politics of war will certainly go above their heads, but they do understand the importance of sharing, that their actions have consequences, and how to effectively communicate.
2. It’s OK To Take Your Time
In the 24-hour news cycle, adults are still trying to process major events as well. Instead of defaulting to the age-old “that’s not for little kids to worry about,” just be honest. Let your kids know that you’re trying to understand it too and that as soon as you do, you can talk about it as a family. This also models a healthy approach to processing information.
3. Talk About the People Who Are Helping
The timeless advice from Mr.Rogers is beneficial for both adults and children. When something major is happening that’s really scary, “looking for the helpers” is something that can help to ease anxiety. Yes, bad things happen but, good people are always ready to jump in and help.
4. You Don’t Have To Figure It Out Alone
It’s an unattainable task to understand everything in the world on your own. Lean on credible resources and trusted friends to help you fill in the blanks. This could be purely factual information, or it could be the mental/emotional processing of difficult situations. Take stock of what it is you need and find the resource that can best support you.
5. Be Honest
Kids are smarter than we sometimes give them credit for. They can tell if something is making you anxious or nervous. It’s not only OK to acknowledge your feelings, but it’s also necessary. Kids will model their behavior after what they see—and experiencing a range of emotions is a healthy practice when processing big events.
The important thing is to simply try. Follow their lead and start small. You don’t have to be an expert—acknowledgment is powerful in and of itself. You might not be amazing at first, but the more you practice, the more familiar it will get. Lately, don’t forget to trust your gut. You have an innate sense of what the little ones in your care can or cannot handle. You’ve got this!