News Stories And Kids – How To Manage Their Questions
Recently, it seems that there have been more negative new stories than good ones. The recent real-life horror stories are hard to avoid whether you are a child or not and in a lot of cases children hear the news via their friends at school. Then once they come home they will have lots to ask about and you may find it hard to alleviate their fears or help them to understand the problems that exist in society. Here are a few tips on managing their questions and how to help them to understand the good and the bad that lives within our reach.
Sometimes kids will catch you unawares and you may not have had a chance to rehearse your conversation with them. If you are totally thrown by their questions, ask them to give you some time and distract them by playing or doing homework first. This may give you an opportunity to gather up the best ways to answer honestly, but carefully too. Take some time away from your child and consider the way to say it and this planning/ practising will ensure the conversation goes easier than when caught unprepared.
Chat at a time that is generally quiet and relaxed. Don’t wait until your kiddie catches you unawares again and get in ahead of them. The last thing you need is a big discussion at bedtime when your child needs to go to sleep after a rather difficult discussion. You could discuss it at dinnertime while everyone is half distracted but also, they are engaged. Give your child time and don’t share all the details immediately, instead let your child lead the conversation. Ask them questions like “What have you heard?” or “Are you worried?” rather than throwing out information that your child may not need to hear. Hearsay is a terrible thing; your child may have misguided information and they may have overheard something on the radio.
Listen to your kiddie and let them share their worries with you. Don’t deflect the stories as “It will never happen to you” as this doesn’t really help kids. They will still fear the issue, so they need to be taught how to manage their fears or anxieties. Children can only do this by understanding and by parents being honest. Show them where the news story occurred, if it is close to you need to expect your child to panic. You need to acknowledge this and offer them solutions to their worries. If a child was taken, for instance, you need to put a personal safety plan in place and if you let your child walk into school usually, now you should tell your child they will be supervised. This helps them to realise that their worry is warranted but that you (their parents) are going to manage the problem. If the bad news occurred miles away it can be easier to calm a child, but you still need to talk to them.
Be honest with your kiddie but don’t overshare information either, especially graphic details. Be a good role model to them by showing your own worries and upset at the news. Don’t be afraid to let your kiddie cry and encourage them to speak freely. Your child may ask why these things happen and why there are bad people which is hard to answer but it is ok to admit you don’t know why. Remind your child of the goodness in the world and how sometimes bad things happen. Lastly, reassure your child of their safety and do something fun after a difficult conversation to remind them that while evil exists that love and happiness does too.
Written by Emma Hayes staff writer at Family Friendly HQ.