Whether they focus on job losses at home, war abroad, child
abduction, health threats, or environmental disaster, the stories
making headline news these days tend to transmit the message that
the world is a dark and dangerous place.
We adults aren't the only ones
who are tuning into these messages. Our kids are paying attention, too.
So how can we prevent our kids from becoming scared to step outside
or giving up on a world that is theirs to inherit someday?
Tackle the issues head-on. Don’t assume that your child
is blissfully naive to what’s going on in the world around him. Even if
he’s a baby or toddler, he’s picking up on your body language and the
sound of your voice when you talk about your worries and concerns. You
need to provide reassurance -- through your actions and your words --
that he is safe and secure.
Provide age-appropriate answers to your child’s questions. A simple and direct answer generally works best. Piling on complicated facts and statistics only serves to leave kids feeling overwhelmed and unsure.
Encourage your child to be specific about his worries. If he can help you to understand what he's most concerned about (e.g., being
separated from you, having to move to another house, having to change schools), you can address those issues in particular.
Provide context to the stories, wherever possible. If your child is school-aged, you can help her to understand what she's hearing in the news and what people are talking about at school. This will allow her to feel more in control of her own life and less at the mercy of outside forces.
Keep tabs on how much time your child is spending soaking up the news. Between watching TV, hitting the Web, and scanning the newspapers on the kitchen table, you could quickly end up with a media-saturated and mega-stressed out kid.
Make a conscious effort to counter some of the bad news your child is being exposed to by pointing out the positive things that are going on in the world. People are pulling together to take better care of the Planet. They are demanding that governments be more open and accountable to the people. They are seeing the need for corporations to be held accountable for the quality of goods they are producing and for the damage they are inflicting on the planet. Dots are being connected in all areas of our lives and people are starting to demand answers and action.
Once the clouds disappear, the sun will be shining on a very different world. What that world will be like will depend on the people who are creating that world today. What we want to be doing during this time is plant within our children and ourselves the seeds of hope: hope that after this time of renewal, the flowers that bloom throughout our neighborhoods will be healthier and stronger and more vibrant than ever before.