How to Talk to Young Readers About Tragedy in the News
Over the last several years, there have been a wave of mindless and merciless tragedies involving the loss of life on a large scale unseen, both in our country and abroad in recent times…or maybe as a country we have been blessedly insulated from the random violence that seems to occur on a regular basis in today’s culture.
With media coverage and the 24/7 news cycles, it becomes ever more difficult to prevent children from hearing details and seeing pictures from these events, recounted, or even shown, through various media outlets.
What do we tell our children when the inevitable questions come from overheard talk on the playground, at school or other places? Sidestepping is probably not a good idea, depending on what is age appropriate. And that seems to be the key.
Sometimes, we parents make the assumption that our children know more of a tragic event than they actually do. So, as Fred Rogers of the renowned Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood Peabody Award winning series counseled parents on this topic:
- Ask first, What do you know about this?
- Let children know they can always come to you about anything about which they have questions, or that troubles them. Children have fantastic and vivid imaginations and sometimes their imaginings can be far worse than the reality.
- Let them know there will always be helpers when bad things happen.
- Tell them that parents and adults will do all they can to insure their safety.
We live in a world that is unpredictable and increasingly violent. But, it is important to assure our children that there are many good people in the world that strive, in the wake of these catastrophes, to help, aid and heal those affected. They are the hope-filled, as well as parents, who are the helpers. These would be every day by-standers, doctors, nurses, police officers, firemen and support teams that are ready to help in any emergency.
This can be a trying time, and a difficult conversation to have with children.
But, it can be a lesson in hope; that most important armor to help them cope and be resilient in a changing world that is harder to negotiate.
There will always be helpers to aid them on their way
I have included two links from Fred Rogers where he discusses how to speak to children about tragedy in the news. Some of it, I have discussed in my blog, but it is very insightful and well worth a listen.
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