There is too much hurt in the world today. Fort Hood. Aurora. Sandy Hook. Boston. The nation’s capital. And now shopping malls. With nonstop news coverage regarding tragedy, parents are left questioning: What do we tell our kids?
Having two kids under 3, I rarely think about how tragedy affects them. Now that my daughter is a toddler and more aware of her surroundings, I realize I need to be more mindful. A tragedy in the news is a sharp reminder of my responsibility as a parent and a role model.
No parent is ready to have their children exposed to life’s cruelties quite yet, but we need to be ready. The best thing we can do for our children in times of crisis is to know how to talk to them and help them work their way through their feelings regardless if they were impacted directly or just saw the coverage on TV.
“While tragic occurrences is the result of a horrific situation either local or somewhere around the world, use the situation to make it an educational or teaching moment for a child,” says Richard Peterson, vice president of education at Kiddie Academy. “While we live in a world where bad things happen beyond our control, we can teach children there are things we can learn as well. Talking about bad things can lead to talking about helping others; for example, ways to volunteer locally, sending cards or artwork, or donating money or clothing.”
Have you talked to your children about tragedy? What are some of your tips?
Other helpful resources for parents include:
Sesame Street’s Here for each other: Helping Families After an Emergency. This downloadable PDF is a wonderful resource for parents of young children.
PBS Parents offers an age-by-age insight on helping kids feel safe. They also give flexible suggestions about answering kids’ questions in Talking with Kids About News. This section can be applied to news of any kind and not just about tragedy.