How to Talk to Your Kids About the News

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By: , – By Amanda Robb, Family Circle
6/19/2012 10:00 AM   :  4 comments   :  8,826 Views

Crime. Recession. Terrorism. Tsunamis. In our digital age, the news—much of it big, scary and confusing—is everywhere, all the time. And whether it's on television or radio, in print or online, tweens and teens are constantly exposed to disturbing stories, images and videos that can cause them to view the planet as a threatening, terrifying place. "On the one hand, we want our kids to know what's going on around them," says Michael Brody, M.D., chair of the television and media committee for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. "Problem is, the news is not rated. A lot of it is sensational, horror-story stuff, which means parents need to put things in perspective." Learn how to talk to your kids about current events, from natural disasters to politics to war, with these smart strategies. You'll calm their fears and help them make better sense of those screaming headlines. Plus, it's a starting point for a deeper, ongoing dialogue that will expand their minds and get them thinking about their role and responsibility in the real world. 
 
Find an Opening

It may seem obvious, but you can't discuss the news with your kids until you're aware of exactly what they know. So the next time your tween or teen mentions a particular topic or event—at dinner, in the car, while watching TV—seize the moment and ask casually what she's heard about it. If need be, you can also initiate a conversation by saying something like "There's been a lot of coverage about those campus shootings. Are kids at school talking about it?"
 
Expressing an interest in what her friends are thinking is a good way to get her to open up, since adolescents are more likely to share thoughts and ideas that they've already discussed with peers. But don't be impatient if your child seems tight-lipped or flippant. "Sometimes teens don't ask questions—or they crack jokes about serious issues—because they're struggling with intense emotions like anger, anxiety or sadness but can't identify them," says Ernestine Briggs-King, Ph.D., a director at the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress at Duke University. Parents, she suggests, can help kids sort things out by making supportive, encouraging comments such as "You keep bringing that subject up. How is it making you feel?"
 
Click here for more tips for talking about the news with your kids from Family Circle.
 
More from Family Circle:
Do your kids watch or read the news? What conversations have you had around current events with your teens?


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Comments

  • 4
    The above article starts out by talking about kids (young goats?), then starts giving advice using only the sexual determanate "she" or her".

    Please be aware that boys and young men need the same sort of parental social interaction, probably even more than young females.

    Boys are taught from infancy they need to guard their feelings (showing fear or deep concern about something is Not "Manly"). When something happens (major tragedies, school shootings, natural disasters) that is out of their control, many boys will act out by becoming more aggressive and may experience problems in school, become more surly at home and generally become extra sensitive to social contacts they can perceive as "slights". - 6/21/2012   11:24:58 AM
  • 3
    Sometimes the news is worse than the violence and crime in the movies. My daughter is turning 17 in a month or so and having these conversations can be difficult as they are having exposure to all of these things at such a young age. Great article, thanks! - 6/21/2012   9:46:30 AM
  • FIRECOM
    2
    Good stuff. I will take it to heart when addressing this with my grand kids. - 6/20/2012   9:15:37 AM
  • 1
    My children are young adults and we have had serious talks about "BATH SALTS", the drugs that are sold in "hip" shops, and that the man who was killed by the police for biting off the other man's face, was said to be "high" on at the time of his horrible attack on that man. My children don't use these "drugs" but do know others who do. They are very bad. They have names like "Spice", "Cloud 9", etc. - 6/20/2012   12:13:52 AM

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