Parents sometimes feel unsure about how to talk with their children about violence and injustice. A natural reaction is to protect and shield your children from unpleasant and distressing facts; however, the majority of school-age children are aware of events in the news that involve violence.If not acknowledged and discussed, the worries and anxieties of children about these world events can become too frightening and difficult for them to deal with.
Children usually feel less threatened and helpless if parents respond as openly and honestly as possible to their questions and fears. Following are some useful steps that you can use that offer hope to children:
- Always listen first, and listen closely to what the child is asking or saying, to decide if they are seeking factual information, or if the questions are expressing anxiety.
- Allow the child to tell you how they feel.Let them know that it is reasonable to feel angry, depressed, anxious, sad or helpless.
- Find out what the child already knows in case they have mistaken ideas or facts, and correct any misconceptions.
- Keep your answers appropriate to the child’s age, level of understanding, and their emotional maturity.For example, it would be inappropriate to go into details about war with a pre-schooler, however many 12 year olds may need a longer and more detailed discussion of these issues.
- Sometimes it may help to talk about your own feelings and how you have coped, but do not burden the child with anxieties that they are unable to handle. Inform your child that millions of people all over the world are concerned about the problems of violence and injustice and are actively working for peaceful solutions.