Parenting Connection: Helping children understand the riots at the U.S. Capitol building

Parenting Connection

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – It’s Parenting Connection Tuesday and 6 News is here for you with tips, strategies, and helpful reminders from local child development experts on how we can be better parents and guardians.

Today’s topic: Helping children understand the riots at the U.S. Capitol.

In the world of social media and the number of ways children can now consume information, the chances of your little loved ones seeing the images of the deadly attack on Capitol Hill without you in the room are extremely high. These images could lead to confusion, fear, or anxiety — and so this is one of those times parents can provide some needed comfort.

Doctors with the Child Mind Institute recommend the first thing parents should do is pause, process what happened, confirm how you feel about it, and know what their thoughts are ahead of time so your kids can benefit from a calm conversation with you.

Younger kids are unlikely to understand what’s happening on TV, but they may still notice that something is up, so experts recommend:

*Checking-in with them and ask questions
*Use developmentally appropriate language to answer questions
*Reassure kids who may have seen disturbing images of violence on TV that they’re safe
*Emphasize the positive

For school-aged kids, the chances of them feeling uneasy if they saw any of the riots is greater, so experts say:

*Give kids a chance to tell you what they saw and ask questions
*Validate their feelings
*Help kids avoid black-and-white thinking. This means talking about the actions, not necessarily about the people
*Limit exposure to news

As for teenagers — child development experts say, use this time as an opportunity to talk about their own rights and responsibilities, for example:

*Let them know that it’s OK to be angry, sad, or frightened when witnessing injustice
*Discuss appropriate ways for teens to channel their emotions and fight for what they believe in
*Open a conversation about what they can learn from these events

Kids look to parents to see how they should react, think and believe — and so child development experts say, by modeling a calm, conversational response with time for questions, it’ll help your kids feel less anxious and your family to be able to process the news in a healthier way.

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