How to Help Your Kids Deal with the News
By Sandy Schroeder
In today’s world, news is everywhere. Helping kids understand this flood of news is essential. Knowing what they see, and helping them make sense of it, can make a huge difference.
When they are younger, headlines about disasters can be scary, raising questions about the future. As they get older, with wider access to news, they will need to judge sources and ask questions. That’s where you come in. The more you talk with your kids, the easier it will be to help them sort through their reactions.
Psychology Today has focused on this issue, and the editors have some suggestions.
Keep Routines Normal – Even though the news may be startling, kids will be more resilient if their normal activities are in place. Do your best to be there when you say you will be.
Keep the Focus Level – Watch the news with your children and answer their questions. Limit the time spent on the news, and help your kids maintain regular routines such as trips to the park and visits with friends.
Tone Everything Down – You may be disturbed about some of the news too, but the atmosphere at home should still be calm and relaxed.
Watch for Cues – Listen to what your children say, and what they do not say. Ask them if they have questions, and take the time to just sit and talk about their concerns.
Look for Stress – Your child may not speak up, but they may show stress in other ways. Changes in school performance, eating or sleep habits, or activities with friends should be monitored.
Use Art as A Tool – Sometimes kids can work through a lot as they doodle, color or draw things that they may not talk about. Talk with them about their drawings and let them tell you what they mean. You may find out what really is troubling them, and how they see the news around them.
Emphasize Family – Make the time to get together with grandparents, aunts and uncles. A strong family network can be one more reassurance for children as they try to figure out the present.
Be Alert for Problems – If your child continues to be stressed and anxious, see your physician and consider using a counselor to help to talk through the situation.
Gradually as you talk with your children, you may see them relax and calm down. Just taking the time to deal with the issue whenever it pops up can make a difference.
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