Talk to kids about Haiti tragedy
Every time there is a massive loss of life somewhere in the world, and pictures are being beamed on television and over the Internet, the question arises about how and when to talk to kids about the tragedy. Now and in the days to come the news will be about the devastation and death in Haiti.
Trying to keep bad news away from children (except especially young ones) is an exercise in futility in today’s wired world. One study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that today spend almost 6 1/2 hours a day on media. Half of kids ages 8 to 18 live in homes where the television is on most of the time.
So experts on child development say the best thing for parents and teachers to do is to be as honest as possible in ways that kids can understand.
PBS has a detailed, age-specific guide on how adults can help kids absorb and understand bad news. You can find it here.
Parents can control what preschoolers see, and it is advised that these children not see repeated viewings of a tragedy. Even if you tell them that something bad happened far away, they don’t understand distance.
But once children enter school, the recommendations change. Children ages 6-8 want to know what is going on in the world, and kids often learn in school--from their friends as well as teachers--things parents may not want them to know.
Adults should talk to this group of children about the news without too much detail or taking the child into a zone of obvious discomfort. Start by finding out how much they know and get a sense of how much they would like to know.
With older children, it is safer to go into more detail, though the amount depends on age and emotional maturity. In many cases parents can watch the news with their children and explain what is going on.
There’s a lot more helpful advice here. Take a look.
Follow my blog all day, every day by bookmarking http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/
Follow all the Post’s Education news & blogs on our Facebook fan page, the "PostSchools" feed on Twitter or our Education home page at http://washingtonpost.com/education.
| January 14, 2010; 9:43 AM ET
Categories: Parents, Teachers | Tags: talking to kids about tragedy
Save & Share: Previous: Saturday detention at Langley H.S.
Next: Schools help Haitian relief effort
Posted by: fcs25 | January 14, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: TwoSons | January 14, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: arodenha | January 14, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.