MAKING SENSE OF CURRENT EVENTS IN THE MEDIA
Should we protect our children from the news?
Yes as much as you can and is realistic. Try to keep a tight boundary on conversations they may hear and words which may be confusing or distressing for them to hear. Under the age of around 8 years old, children will struggle to make sense of concepts such as war and death. Their brains are still developing abstract thinking and they blur fantasy with reality. For older children they may have an idea about some of the concepts such as war from History lessons and may associate this with death.
What if they see or hear something that worries them?
Open up the conversation. When children asks a question they have probably already considered an answer. Having an open conversation is less about giving answers and more about being curious about what they have heard, what they understand about it, how they feel, what their worries are, and how you will support them and keep them feeling safe.
What do I say?
You do not need to have all the answers! Listening and offering a safe space for your child to make sense of their experience is the most important thing. We can still respond in a way that makes children feel safe even if we don't know the answer. Eg "That is a big question. I wonder whether you're feeling a bit scared/worried about it? That's normal and sometimes I feel scared too" "I don't know the answer but I know we are safe right now. What would make you feel better if this question pops into your head again?" Perhaps writing down a list of their questions for you to go away and think about answers to would be a good place to start, your child will feel they are being heard and you buy time to consider your answers.
When discussing 'big' topics...
- Stay honest
- Keep it simple and age appropriate
- Normalise their feelings (and your own)
- Be led by their questions and give them opportunities to ask them
- Reassure your child of their safety with you
Depending on the issue, you may want to support your child in ways they can take action if this is appropriate. For example, writing to their local MP or choosing a charity to support.
Taking positive steps brings hope to children and offers them a good model on how to problem solve in difficult situations.
And remember to look after yourself...
What is happening in the world is affecting all of us. An attack on any country is an attack on humanity. Make sure to do whatever you need to feel safe and contained- this will help you support your child the best you can.
Please let us know at school if current events are having an impact on your child or family, and if we can help in any way.
What to do if you're upset by the news An article written for children