As a child growing up in South Jersey in the '70s and '80s, there were three local TV stations and UHF. Our TV had a rabbit ear antenna and you had to physically get up and turn the dial to change the station. And, since there were only three stations and UHF, the pickings were slim. The news aired at 6:00pm and 11:00pm. At midnight, TV went off the air. I vividly recall the image of the American flag flying as the national anthem played in the background, and then the sign off. Nothing to see but a snowy screen until the morning.
How times have changed! TV never sleeps. And, the news streams all day--be it through TV, radio, or our devices. We are viewing violence, terror, hatred, and extreme disregard for life--all of which are deeply disturbing and troubling to most adults. As we endeavor to make sense of what we are seeing, how do we help our children, who undoubtedly are seeing and hearing what we are seeing and hearing and impacted thereby?
Some thoughts to consider:
- Children have an inherent need for love, protection, safety, and security. A lot of what we are seeing may evoke a sense of fear, worry, and anxiety in children.
- Children see, hear, absorb, and feel a lot more than they will ever verbalize. Be sure to check-in by asking questions
- Be a thoughtful, objective listener. Take time to understand and be sensitized to what is going on in your child's mind/heart. Avoid minimizing or downplaying her feelings.
- Know your child. Wisely consider his personality and what he is mature enough to handle as you honestly answer questions. Keep it simple. Sometimes, less (information) is best
- Be reassuring--help kids feel safe
- Monitor the content of what you will allow your children to view/hear. Turn the TV off; many times the news loops--repeating graphic footage
- Keep the doors of communication open and always be available to answer questions or address concerns that may come up.