Talking to Kids About Current Events

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Every time I open my news feed there’s another tragedy that has unfolded over the course of the day. Talking to kids about current events, in particular my kids, has been one of my biggest challenges as they continue to grow. Kids of all ages talk about what they see and hear; whether it’s from the radio, your smart device, or reading the newspaper. The message is to stay vigilant, if you see something, say something, and make sure you know where to hide in case of an emergency at school. Our kids seem to soak up everything they hear and see. 

Mental Health Matters

My six year old daughter has recently taken to sneaking in our room and sleeping in our bed. When I asked her why, she told me she heard about a bad person hurting kids in a school. She was talking about the recent mass shooting in Tennessee. I don’t watch the news while my kids are around, she simply saw it on our Alexa device. I realized that current events take a toll on my children’s mental health. Taking a step back and looking at how terrifying a mass shooting in a school seems to a child, it’s important to have those conversations about why these things are happening in a language that they understand. We ended up playing a game of Uno and talking about school being a happy place. The game helped take away the nervousness of the conversation. Talking about all the positive things that happen everyday at school reminded her how important of a place school is. It’s important not to diminish their feelings, and equally as important to not fuel their fear and anxiety with your own. 

Answer Questions

As a parent, my kids ask at least 100 questions a day. It’s important to not skip over the ones that give them a sense of security. The questions range from ‘what color is Pluto’, to ‘why are there only a few other Asian kids in my school’? My kids both know that they have Korean roots, and that’s part of their cultural identity. In NH, the entire Asian American population is 2.7%. During the height of the pandemic, I did not want to go out because of the backlash (even here on the Seacoast) I was seeing in other parts of the country. Thankfully my kids were younger at the time. Trying to explain why you’re treated differently because of race is an impossibly difficult situation. You can’t open your news feed without seeing another racially motivated incident make headlines. It’s absolutely heartbreaking as a parent to try and explain that these things happen on a regular basis. I try and answer questions as honestly as I can with facts, but I don’t always have the answer. Organizations like Seacoast BLM help promote social change in our area. I’ve used them as a resource when my answers fall short. 

Don’t Diminish Their Feelings

As parents, it’s hard to toe the line between placating their feelings and really listening to what they are saying. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve told my child that a band-aid fixes cuts and bruises. It’s what they needed to hear. I’ll also be the first to admit that active listening as a parent is one of the greatest and hardest skills to learn. There’s so many times I say yes without really listening, or in the same breath, no. Our kids have the capacity to understand and feel really big feelings. Whether it’s happiness or sadness and anxiety, they are entitled to their feelings. Letting them talk about their day, whether it’s just to vent because we’re where they feel safe to be themselves, is so important. Sometimes seeing a current event, or talking about a past event, can be a catalyst for anxiousness or fear to come out. It’s important to know they have a sounding board. 

In a world that’s constantly bombarded with current events at your fingertips, it’s important for me to decide how much i’m willing to expose my kids to. Equally as important to me is how I can react when they have questions. Although I know they won’t always come to me with their thoughts and feelings. I hope that when it comes to the big things, they know I’m always there for them. 

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Hello! I'm Holly. I spent half of my life in North Carolina, where I developed a love of food and college basketball simultaneously while studying for a modern east Asian history final at UNCC. Since moving to the Seacoast, I'd say i've had a series of rather fortunate events. I am a wife to an Air Force veteran, a mom of two kids and a super happy golden retriever. In 2018, I quit a career trajectory that did not fill my bucket to be a stay at home mom. The things that do fill my bucket include cooking, random Spice Girls sing alongs with my kids in the car, and bringing our house out of the 80's through several both successful and unsuccessful DIY projects. You'll find me on the field, coaching my kids various rec sports, as well as helping them blaze their own trail in the scouting world. My world right now is family centered, and it's absolutely perfect for me.