There is so much going on in the world today, and so much news that kids are exposed to, sometimes it can be hard for them to understand events and still feel safe. No matter what the age, kids and young adults need information and assistance with what they hear and see. There are many teachable moments throughout the day, but those moments are easy to pass and not use them to help kids better understand the world around them. As a parent, it’s important to support your kids and help them as they navigate the world.
When you think about how much of the world news that kids are exposed to these day, it’s overwhelming. From my younger days when important world news came hours later, to modern days when it’s almost instantaneous and more information, it’s hard not to know what’s happening in our world. It’s not uncommon for events to be on the internet minutes after they occurs. I think a lot of adults I work with in treatment are overwhelmed by the news these days, and our kids are just as overwhelmed, without the ability to even ask questions at times.
When it comes to helping kids, the first thing to do is answer questions, but be careful and only answer the questions that they ask. Children will ask you the information they are looking for, such as where do babies come from? Why do people hurt each other? Why do people say mean things about each other? As we provide answers to their questions, we shape who they become. We have an affect on their ability to be honest, to manage anger and frustration, and to develop coping skills. These things stay with them for their lifetime, and can help them be successful, or can set them up for issues that keep them from being all that they can be.
When you talk to your kids, ask them how they are feeling. Ask what they think about an event. Find out if they were scared, and if so why were they scared. Don’t be afraid to talk with them in an age appropriate way. If a five year old asks where babies come from, don’t sit down with a book and pictures of all the parts that go into creating life. They might just need to know that a baby grows in a mommy’s tummy. For a teen, you might provide more technical information but also include values and beliefs related to your family. When I talk with my kids about things, I answer their questions but we also talk about life.
Parents help kids through tough times quite often. From being bullied at school, to traumatic events they see on television, they need help to better understand the world, to develop coping skills, and to understand how they fit into the world. The hope is that they will continue to learn through out their life. By teaching them how to do that, without getting overwhelmed, parents can give their kids the skills they need to be successful. I continue to learn things every day, and some of the lessons are hard, and others help me see a bigger picture. At the end of the day, it’s all about learning how to be happy for life.