How To Talk To Kids About Tough Issues

By in Parenting on 12 May 2009

We normally shield our kids from seeing, hearing or reading disturbing issues from the television, radio or internet. While we get plenty of information from these sources, many parents are concerned whether a child can appropriately handle topics like violence, crime, war, natural disasters, and many other stories depicting other types of devastation.

For children, these issues may lead to undue stress or worry. At age 7 or 8, children can easily perceive these events as something that can inevitably happen to them. In fact, some children may even have sleepless nights worrying over their entire family’s safety. Thus, it is very important for parents to limit to some extent what a child learns from the different forms of media.

Introducing kids to the harsh realities of life may be difficult. You face the risk of distorting their perception of an all too perfect world. But as much as we want to shield them from the things happening around us, we may fall short of preparing them for greater things ahead.

When talking to kids about these tough issues, it is important to remember that there is actually no need to divulge every detail. Try to be truthful in explaining the details surrounding an incident but set limits too. What your child does not know won’t bother him at all. Answer your child’s questions properly and explain to him only the things that he needs to know.

For older children, expect some skepticism when you explain certain matters to them. In general, older kids may still feel stressed out about the idea of an impending threat. Reassure your child and help him deal with his fears by encouraging him to speak up about his concerns. Clarify any misconceptions and help your child cope.

At some point, we all need to discuss current events to our kids because they are bound to come across these issues at home or in school. While the news may depict tough issues like suffering and violence, some programs or news magazines are specifically designed for kids aimed at raising awareness. Carefully choose the programs and the materials that your child can have access to. This is to prevent any misconceptions that may only lead to unnecessary fears.

It may also be good to watch the news with your children. Help them understand the issues by explaining to them in ways that they can understand. Bear in mind that you need to base your explanations depending on a child’s developmental stage. Illustrate examples when necessary and encourage your kids to ask questions.

It is also important that you focus on the message that your child gets from the news. When a natural disaster strikes a place, teach your kids about sharing, and helping others. Sometimes there are stories that can become so sensationalized that they in turn become more disturbing. Make sure that you put these issues in their proper context, and try to use certain stories as tools for enforcing values. Eventually your children will also learn that despite life’s many challenges, the human spirit is strong enough to withstand the strongest storm.

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