All news feels scary lately, but sometimes, it warrants a talk with your child. Knowing how to talk about scary news with your kids can be hard, but here are some tips and steps to follow. Subscribe to Scary Mommy on YouTube here.
First, limit exposure. We all know our kids can watch the same movie over and over again. How else would I know all the words to every song in Moana? Watching the news over and over again, however, can be traumatizing for our kids. So, make sure to take a break from the news when your kids are around.
It’s important to be honest, but with facts only. Stick to the facts, mom! Our kids get their news from the playground. And we all know that Jack at recess isn’t always sharing the most accurate details of what’s going on in the world. So make sure to be the one who hands down the facts. Include what steps are being taken to keep them safe and then give them a hug. Hugs go a long way.
I know it’s hard, but don’t sugarcoat it and don’t exaggerate. Again, stick to the facts, clear up misconceptions and don’t share unnecessary details. Once you start oversharing, you’ll see a glaze in their eyes or they’ll start asking questions that might be off base. Keep it simple.
When it comes to our older kids, they may have more questions about how to get involved or what is being done. First, remind them how you keep them safe. Give them examples of what you do at home for them, such as emergency plans and to-go bags. Also, talk about what the school does to keep them safe. Those emergency drills are there for a reason.
Stay positive. Show them the good that’s happening. Where there is a crisis, there are volunteers doing good things. Not only is it good to reflect on real life superheroes, but this is a moment to reflect on what you and your child can do to help. Helping out, whether through donations or through hands-on work, gives us a feeling of control over an unpredictable situation and that can ease the stress.
Point out what is safe in their lives. Sticking to routines and keeping up with bedtime stories is predictable and feels safe and gives your mind a much needed break.
Finally, take care of yourself. You’re processing tragedy too. If you’re face down on the bed, that’s not good for anyone. There are people out there you can talk to and who can give you help. Reach out to them if you don’t feel like you can cope.
This is dedicated to the mothers and young people out there fighting hard for the day when no mother has to explain scary news to a child ever again.