With the shock of the senslessly evil attack in Manchester last night and an ever-growing threat to our society looming like a giant elephant in the room, this subject is giving parents all over the country cause for concern right now.
Do you let your kids watch the news as it unfolds? Do you shield them from it entirely or give them an edited version?
Parenting is entirely up to the individuals and we all have our own styles and opinions but what is the right way to do it according to those in the know?
From what I can gather online, most of the experts in child psychology are in unanimous agreement that we must not shield our children from the world’s issues. On saying that, there is absolutely no real benefit to instilling fear in them either.
ALLOW THEM TO WATCH THE NEWS.
It is pointless to keep massive news stories from our youngsters (above school age), they will find out about it at school, from friends, by overhearing or online. Worse, the versions they may hear second and third hand, may be wildly exaggerated and even more frightening. Sit with them as they watch and explain what’s going on. Choose a channel or edit you know will leave out as much of the sensationalism as possible and too much gratuity.
SHOW THEM THE HEROES.
As they watch be very sure to point out the heroes and the people helping. Talk to your children about how many amazing people there are working in emergency services to protect, heal and save us. The majority of people in this world are good and kind. We must always help our children to believe that.
PUT THE RISK INTO PERSPECTIVE.
The chances of being killed in a terrorist attack are so very slim that it’s hard to even calculate the statistic. Talk numbers to your children and show them how very small the risk is. Kids love statistics. If they are aware that you are more likely to be hit on the head by a piano falling from the sky than die in a plane crash for example, they will feel instantly soothed about flying. Point out the real dangers in life, like crossing the road, wearing seatbelts etc.
TEACH THEM WHO THE GOOD GUYS ARE.
Stranger Danger is a very important lesson we need to teach our young, but never ever tell your kids to fear the police. We are often heard saying things like “Oh that policeman over there will come and throw you in jail” to get them to behave, but that is very damaging. Kids must feel like people in authority and uniforms are safe havens and know where to run in the event of anything going wrong. Teach them how to dial emergency services and talk them through what they would do if they were ever afraid or in a threatening situation, but always try to highlight how unlikely that would be…Try to instill the knowledge that evil people are evil people regardless of race or religion but are thankfully few and far between.
It is still a good world fundamentally, and good vs evil is a tale as old as time and present in every single kid’s movie or book so their little minds are already there when it comes to understanding life and how it works.
Ultimately, if we love our kids and teach them understanding, empathy and kindness then we are all doing our own little bit to change the world for the good long-term. It’s not an easy job parenting, but it’s a very important one.