“Momma, What Happened?!” How To Talk To Your Kids About The News.
“Momma, What happened?!” (How could I possibly tell them the news?)
“What?”, I scurried to wipe my tears, stalling to steal a few minutes to compose myself.
“Momma! You’re crying! What’s wrong?!”, my 10-year-old is now wide-eyed and scared. In seconds, my twin 8-year-olds are by my side, just as scared.
I tried more stalling and mumbled something incoherent.
I couldn’t lie. I couldn’t evade.
But how do I tell them of the atrocities?
How do I tell them about the terrible events? The Boston Marathon Bombings, the deaths, the sheer ruthless killing of innocent souls, the death of a child, yes, my childrens’ age….little Martin Richard.. and now, the terrorists on the loose… warnings from police to stay in your homes, swarms of media, police, choppers in the skies over millions… it’s unbelievable. But it is reality.
And in our own backyard: the horrific explosion in West, Texas. The deaths. The devastation. in a place we’ve visited all my life and all thier young lives as we travel to our family farm. Devastation and Death.
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! Especially if they’re already aware something is going on. 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. Or they will know will – News is our business. Both my husband and I are in the news business, so often the TV is on. It’s inescapable – between the news, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — and other kids at school – your kids often will hear from someone else. Technology evolves and moves news and information at the speed of light. Address the topics. 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.
- 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, etcetera – 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 happen, 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.or . And from CNN, http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/16/us/iyw-boston-marathon. Here you will find many ways you can help and get involved. And in Texas, regarding the West, Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosions: http://dfwscanner.wordpress.com/help-west/ . Of course, the Salvation Army is always on the scene and ready to help – with plenty of local chapters across the country. Here’s where to start with the Salvation Army: http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf
Your children look to you for guidance, for answers and security. Offering these gives your kids power — and that is living as The Empowered Mom℠.
Some words of caution
While giving is good and your intentions are great, be aware that there are individuals who might attempt to take advantage of your kindness. Read up on the charities or organizations to which you are donating funds or supplies. You can use sites such as Charity Navigator — a service run by a non-profit organization that has information on more than 5,000 charities and evaluates the groups’ financial health — to confirm that everything’s on the up and up.
Empower Your Kids, Empower Yourself! Live Empowered, as Moms, Dads, parents and families!