These days it seems like every time we turn around there is another tragedy. Something that seems senseless. Something that we, even as adults, have a hard time comprehending or understanding ourselves.
When these events occur, it’s important to take some time to talk to our children about what’s happening. Why? Because they are going to hear about it. And your best explanation of a difficult situation is better than no explanation at all. Here are five tips to help get your conversation started:
Consider their developmental level. Young children don’t necessarily need to know about every tragedy. They are happy and carefree and we can and should keep them that way as long as possible. Preschoolers up to kindergarteners (and even first graders) can be shielded from hearing about most situations. But school aged children are VERY likely to hear about tragedies from their peers, teachers, or the media so as a parent it’s important to talk to your kids yourself. When you do talk to your children, talk to them using vocabulary that they understand and using examples that are appropriate to their developmental level.
Be honest. My thinking has always been that I would rather my children hear about something difficult from me first than on the playground from one of their friends. If armed with accurate information from their parents, children are better able to process truth (and fiction) presented by their peers. I also want my children to know that I will not lie to them, even when the topic is scary. Stay calm when you’re talking with your kids and using your own words say something like: “A sad thing happened that I wanted to talk with you about. There was an explosion in Boston while people were running in a race, the Boston Marathon. A bomb caused the explosion. Some people were injured and sadly some people died. There were also a lot of people there who were not hurt and who helped those who did get injured. I don’t know why this happened or who put the bomb there but the police are investigating it and over time we will know more. I wanted to tell you about it so that you would know what was going on and could ask me any questions that you have. I may not have the answers,but it’s always important to me to be honest with you even about difficult things.” [Read more...]