Often the things children see and hear on the news or on websites that cover the news may be confusing and alarming. Even if you don’t let your children read or watch the news, they may hear about events from other children at school. With some preparation, you can help your children to understand and react calmly to news and current events.
The first thing to keep in mind when talking about current events with your child is to find out what your child already knows. Your child may have already heard about an event from classmates but may lack context for an understanding of the details of the event. By asking your child questions about what news topics are being discussed in school or what stories they recently saw in the newspaper or on tv, you can help your child fill in gaps in their understanding of events.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while it may be advisable to shield very young children from particularly distressing news stories, this is not likely to be an option for older children. If they don’t hear about the event from you, then they are likely to hear about it from classmates. By talking to your child first, you can help them learn distressing or confusing news from you instead of learning about it at school.
Another way you can help your child understand the news is to seek out child appropriate news sources. Explain to your child the importance of getting news from reputable sources. There are multiple well-regarded websites that have news stories geared towards younger children. Your child’s teacher may also be able to help you find appropriate sources. Older children may want to read the same news sources that you read or watch. Try to watch or read the news together and encourage your child to ask questions if they see something confusing or upsetting.
Be honest with your child about your feelings. If a news story upsets you, it is okay to tell your child this. Showing children that having strong feelings about world events is healthy. You can also show your child how you respond to these events, whether it be by donating to a charity or by contacting your government representatives. While you should be honest about your feelings, you shouldn’t try to force your child to feel the same way. Encourage your child to read or watch the news critically and to draw their own conclusions.
While the world can be a confusing place and the internet allows for almost instant information on events anywhere in the world, that doesn’t mean you have to let your child be overwhelmed by the news. By talking with your child about current events and stories they see in the news or hear about at school, you can help your child to feel more confident in their understanding of the world and to become a better and more informed global citizen.