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Talking to kids about distressing news events

By Robin Moss

Director of Therapeutic Programs

Robin Moss is a Tennessee state Licensed Clinical Social Worker with more than 25 years experience working with children, youth, and families. Robin completed her graduate studies at Washington University’s top ranked George Warren Brown School of Social Work in St. Louis in 1998. Robin has many years of experience providing therapeutic services, along with advocacy, program development, and supervision in nonprofit settings. Robin began her work at Bethel Bible Village in February 2008 and was promoted to her position as Director of Therapeutic Programs in June of 2012. She and her husband, Jon, have two daughters.

7 Tips for Parents

Recent events in the news have been difficult for many of us to process. The images and video can be disturbing even for adults, but what about our children?

We’re seeing children who feel confused, overwhelmed, sad, frightened and even angry. And they may have no idea how to express to you all that they are feeling.

Here are some helpful things to keep in mind when discussing disturbing news events with your children:

1. When your children ask you about a disturbing event, always find out first what they already know. Otherwise, you may share more details than they need or are equipped to understand.

2. Next, find out what their concerns are. Are they worried about their safety? Have they heard rumors that may not even be true? Then, answer their concerns at their level, using words that are familiar to them.

3. Remind your children how much God loves them, and that He is always with them, no matter what happens. Praying with them can be comforting and help them remember to always bring their cares before the Lord.

4. For most children, the biggest question is often “Why did this happen?” It is okay to tell them that even adults don’t always understand the reasons that bad things like this happen. Use reliable news sources to share facts, as appropriate, and help them distinguish these reports from “fake news.”

5. To keep your children from being overwhelmed by the continuing news coverage, limit their exposure to media in your home. Try to keep up with events privately, on your phone or computer, and allow your children to listen to or watch something soothing.

6. For young children, remember that they do not need to know all of the details of a disturbing news story. If they have heard things that upset them, you can lead them to a point of safety and hope by saying something simple like: “Something bad did happen, but it is over now, and you are safe with me.”

7. With older children and teens, check in with them as the story develops, and monitor what they are hearing from their peers. Today, news stories sometimes take on a life of their own with many embellishments added along the way. Make sure your kids know it is okay to ask questions and discuss their feelings with you at any time.

Finally, be sure to address your own feelings surrounding what is being reported in the news. If you are highly anxious, your children will feel this, and they will be anxious too. You want your children to feel they are secure in their home, and that they can rely on you and the Lord to keep them safe.

If you have specific questions or concerns, contact us at Bethel Bible Village, and we’ll be happy to help.


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