“Momma, What Happened?!”
How To Talk To Your Kids About The News.
49 people are dead and more than 53 are wounded after a lone gunman opened fire in an Orlando club early Sunday morning. Another terror attack on US soil. Another needless hate crime.
I stall, wondering how to answer that question. If I’m shaken, unsure and can’t even process the reality as an adult, how can we possibly expect our children to? Much less, how do I answer their questions?
When the news is everywhere – your kids look to you for answers.
But what if you don’t have them?
Here’s what you do.
When terrible events like this happen, as a parent, it’s our instinct to shelter our children from bad news. However, most kids will hear about the Orlando shooting regardless and they will most likely have questions could struggle with their emotions if left unaddressed.
How do I tell them about the terrible events?
Damn. A lone tear escapes and drips down my face.
The fear rises in their innocent voices, “Momma! Tell us what happened!”
As a journalist, I know from experience I had to talk to them.
I know as a parent, it’s MY responsibility.
Are your kids asking you questions you can’t answer?
If YOU are wondering how to talk to your kids about all the events of this week, you’re not alone.
The Empowered Mom℠ arms herself with tools when tackling the tough stuff. Not sure how to talk about major news stories with your kids?
Here’s some tips you can use when talking to your kids about what’s happening in the world or in the news.
- Don’t Ignore It! Don’t act as if it’s not happening. This is a chance to let your kids voice their thoughts. Your kids know. They know something is going on or something is wrong. Between the news, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, kids texting each other-your kids often will hear from someone else. As a mom, is that what you really want? Technology moves news and information at the speed of light. As an Empowered Mom, we should address the topic and not ignore it. You want to control the message. You want to be the one to tell your kids. Otherwise they may get distorted or incorrect information. You be the one to control the flow of information as much as possible.
- Address their Concerns and their Fears. Ask them questions such as ‘what do you think of that?’ and ‘what scares you about that?’ Often times, kids aren’t sure of their own feelings and this gives both of you a platform to talk about it. This discussion is empowering to both you and your children.
- Use as a Teaching Tool. This is where kids learn a lot about the values and morals of your family. Talking about it together as a family can reinforce their sense of security. A sense they are protected. This is great time to talk about being prepared. You can talk about emergency measures in your household and your town. That’s why you have fire drills, etc., – so if something did happen, your family is already prepared.
- Keep it Age Appropriate. Turn off the computer or the TV if it’s too scary for them. They can’t make sense out of a lot of it and feel overwhelmed. This can cause your kids anxiety and an overall sense of fear. Having spent years in the news business as an anchor and reporter, I know it’s not all appropriate for kids. Your toddler or 4-year-old can’t process what’s happening, and seeing it over and over can be scary.
- Reassure Them. Let them know you’re there protecting them. Remind them you’re keeping them safe. Tell them what you hope for and how others are already helping out around the world. More than anything, your kids want comfort knowing they’re going to be okay. They want reassurance.
- Keep a Balance. Balance their awareness of world,national or local events with living your own lives. Sometimes they see or hear about something at one part of the day and then go on to something else. Come back to it, especially if they talked about it in school. Most of all, continue on with your normal day, as much as possible.
- Help your Kids Get Involved. Take Action. Taking action helps empower your kids. Helps them feel they are (in some way) part of the solution. And prevents them (and us) from feeling completely power-less. Here’s a few sites that are some examples of how you and your kids can help: From the Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org .