Talking to your kids about the news
It’s been an emotional couple of days and our thoughts and prayers are with the community of Boston and the friends and families of those affected by recent tragic events.
The news coming out of Boston has been awful, and if you’re a parent you are probably fielding all kinds of questions from your children.
There’s an image going around on Facebook with a quote from Mister Rogers that I think is good to remember during times like this:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
I like this, don’t you? To focus on the helpers – the police, the paramedics, the fire fighters, and the bystanders who risk their own lives – reminds us that there is much, much good in the world. I don’t think we should ever lose sight of that. Remembering that there are good people out there gives us hope… and this is something we all need.
It’s tempting to shield little ears from bad news, but they are likely going to hear about it anyway. They may overhear you talking at night, or something in the schoolyard. It’s best that kids hear bad news from their parents. That way they’re getting the facts, and the much-needed assurance that it’s very unlikely to ever happen to them.
What I wouldn’t do, is search the web for news about bad news with kids by my side. Many of the articles online are accompanied by very graphic imagery, which I don’t think is helpful for anyone.
If you’re looking for some ways to help talk to your kids about news, check out this helpful tip sheet at MediaSmarts.ca. (Full disclosure, I write for the MediaSmarts blog.) What this tip sheet doesn’t mention is how to answer the question WHY. WHY did this happen?
I don’t have a good answer – it’s an impossible question – but I will say this, there are bad people in the world, but so many more good people. And that’s what we have to focus on right now.