Dealing with Scary News
Whether in the media or on the school yard, there will always be scary news.
The worry begins: Could the same thing happen to you? How do you talk about it without scaring the pants off of your kids?
1. Children are very good at reading our emotions so if bad news has got you worried plan to talk with your kids about it. Otherwise, they may start attributing your mood to something that they have done:
a. Why is Mom so sad? Maybe I’ve done something wrong?
b. Is Dad mad at me? He hasn’t stopped frowning for days.
2. Our adult experiences define our level of fear and worry. Work with their level of concern, don’t add to it with adult-level information.
3. When sharing news with kids, use facts and keep them age specific – start by finding out what they already know, that way you can clarify mistakes and edit how much information you give them.
a. (For younger kids)Some sad things have happened, let’s send good thoughts and see how we can help.
b. (For 5 and up)What is your understanding of the situation? Let’s talk about your concerns and figure out how we can send hope and help in this situation.
4. Share your feelings and support those of your children
a. This is kind of a scary time and we are feeling a bit worried. It’s easy to get scared but we want you to know that we are a team and we know that we can discuss our concerns and figure out a plan to help. Let’s also be thankful for what we have.
b. If you are scared or worried, you can always talk to us about how you’re feeling. We’ll help you to know how things will work out ok. Don’t be worried about protecting us.
5. Talking about fears, “what-ifs” and worst-cases can be good because they get those ideas out of heads and onto paper. From there, you and your kids can work together to make plans for those eventualities or rule them out completely.
Lastly, children look to adults to keep things safe and consistent. We can all do our best to maintain routines as much as possible and to be a sense of calm for our children.