Experts Tell Parents How To Help Kids Process Scary News

There is a lot of heavy news on TV and social media daily regarding school shootings, pandemics, natural disasters, wars, and climate changes. It can be frightening and overwhelming for kids and adolescents.

According to experts, parents can help children process sensitive news topics age-appropriately, preventing anxiety and affecting their sense of security. Here’s how.

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Start With Calmness

The founder of News Not Noise, Jessica Yellin, says, “First, make sure you are in an emotionally sound place. If you are panicked or overly anxious, your kids will pick that up, and it’s not productive.”

Jacqueline Toner, a psychologist, warns that there are differences between parents sharing their sadness and sharing their fear.

Learn What Kids Already Know

Toner suggests, “Before explaining or comforting,” assess what your child has heard or seen.

It would be best if you didn’t suggest there are easy answers to heavy, complex topics.

“Kids sniff out dishonesty, which makes them more afraid,” says Yellin.

Children May Misunderstand News Events

Toner points out that children are “more prone” to misunderstanding news details than adults and may need some context from their parents.

Toner says, “This can result in specific fears or a general sense of anxiety.”

“The same scenes are shown repeatedly in current events, sometimes from different perspectives,” says Toner, causing a sense that “a past event is still on.

Don’t Expose Yourself To Scary News

Yellin notes that this applies to children and adults.

She says, “Exposure to too much traumatic material can immobilize you.” Don’t get lost in rabbit holes; instead, focus on the basics.

Yellen provides only “the most basic information about what happened” and focuses on people who are pursuing policy solutions. That’s where you can make the most use of your energy.

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Reassure Kids To Reduce Anxiety

According to Toner, children cannot be protected entirely from the news that completely captivates the world or the entire country.

Yellin advises parents to remind their kids that this is the news, that everything is happening in this space, and that they are safe.

It is an excellent time to use sadness and worry into action as you reassure your child.