How to Help Kids Handle a Flood of News
By Sandy Schroeder
In today's world, we are surrounded by news of hurricanes, floods, fires and other disasters. If the TV is on a lot, your kids may be exposed to more news than they can handle.
Be There for Them
To help kids deal with their reactions, monitor what's happening and control the exposure. Younger children may be worried, angry or frightened by the news. Teens may be frustrated or discouraged. Limiting the amount of TV viewing and talking with them about the news can put it into a better perspective. If you are calm and rational, it will be easier for them to be calm and rational, which is a pretty good set of traits.
Take Action If You Can
In response to hurricanes, floods and fires, encourage your kids to help as you locate donation sites and put together packages. It can be a comfort for kids when they take steps to help.
Talk About Family Safety
Kids are instinctively worried about the safety of their family and their home. Talk about the safety measures that you have in place, and the safety precautions in their community.
Change the Atmosphere
This may be a good time to have a movie night with popcorn and funny old movies. Or set up a game night in the family room. Just being there together and doing simple things can go a long way to calm reactions.
If Your Kids are 8 to 12
You know how your kids react. Monitor responses and control news flow accordingly.
Talk with them and answer questions - Find out what they are thinking and help them sort through generalizations and over reactions. Your calm answers can clear up some of their fears.
Monitor online and TV news - Go online and watch with them to know what they are seeing. Filter out the news and steer them to shows like FunBrain and Poptropica and PBS's wide range of features, which includes everything from trains to princesses to dinosaurs.
Staying in Touch with Teens
Talk about the details. As teens get news from independent sources, it's important to know what they have learned and what they think. Keep it casual and be open to their thoughts. Invite their questions and be honest with your reactions. Let them know they can come to you with questions. If you feel you could use more help, check the National Association of School Psychologists or the American Psychological Association.
No one knows your kids better than you do. Stay close to them and make sure they know you love them and are there for them. That can go a long way to help them feel safe in a turbulent world.
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