With each passing year, I realize how scary life can be. As parents, we constantly worry about our kids. But as we watch events unfold around us, our anxieties can rise to exponential heights. I often wonder how my kids will be able to navigate the terror that exists. Whether it’s natural disasters, wars, political disagreements, or horrifying crimes, our kids will be exposed at some level or another to trauma. Being able to talk with them about these things is so essential. But how do we approach such difficult topics without causing them to completely fear everything?
Why should I talk about world events with my kids?
Talking about scary world events can be hard, especially when we’d rather shield ourselves and our kids from them. I know that I do this! Being bombarded with the sad and heartbreaking realities that so many people have to experience causes me a lot of anxiety, so I often avoid the news. It’s a coping mechanism for many- to just ignore it or block it out so we don’t allow ourselves to feel emotion or pain.
Although overconsumption of news can be toxic, avoiding it altogether is not a good way to cope. In fact, staying up to date on the main events happening in our world can give us opportunities to ponder how we can make changes in our own lives, and how we can best reach out and serve those who need it most in our communities. Just be mindful of how it effects you and take a step back from details if needed.
As we stay up to date on stories happening throughout the world, we may feel that our children don’t need to know about them. Some of us want to shield them from scary things, while others just feel it’s unimportant to talk about. Regardless of the reason, here are two big reasons to keep kids in the loop as well:
1. Kids are extremely receptive and can often sense when something is going on. If we try to hide our own anxieties and refuse to discuss it with our kids, they may begin to feel anxious about the unknown. We need to be the ones to teach our kids that it’s important to be open and honest, and that it’s ok to discuss our feelings.
2. No matter the world event, kids are sure to hear details from someone-whether it’s from you at home or kids at school. Many of the details they hear from peers will be untrue or distorted because kids tend to take things out of context or over exaggerate. Talking about these things with our kids first ensures they not only get the details right, but that they can process the intense emotions in the loving and safe space that only you can provide.
How can I best approach the topic with my kids?
1. Process your own emotions first.
I’ve found that I cannot have an effective conversation about anything with anyone until I’ve had time to think deeply and evaluate. Take the time to evaluate your own feelings first. Writing things down in a