How to Talk to Kids About It
As the news centers picked up the story about the tragic shooting of nine people at a church in South Carolina this week, I joined with millions of Americans in prayer and sorrow.
Having grown up in the church, there is a familiarity and safety that I feel that is chipped away at every time I hear about a story like this.
But an additional problem arises when you have children – what if they hear about it on the radio? Or a friend tells them? How should we handle these tough conversations?
Today I would like to offer some tips.
1. Look for the helpers. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s an oft-quoted line from Mr. Fred Rogers. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” The more I’ve thought about this phrase, the more it has resonated with me. Instead of focusing on the evil, the pain or the suffering, focus on those who are doing something good in the situation.
2. Overcome evil with good. It’s a Biblical principle found in Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” It can be very frustrating to see evil “win,” but know that we do not fight evil with evil. Be the light. As a family do some charity work, a random act of kindness, pray for those who persecute you, and let your child see this verse in action.
3. Turn off the TV. The news is not made for children. With little warning, disturbing pictures and videos can be shown. Often times after a tragedy, the news channels will show the same video/picture over and over. Remember the old adage, a picture is worth a thousand words? Those images can stick with your child and “speak” to them about the situation as they mull over it later. Make sure you are the only one speaking to them about this — not the anchor of the nighttime news. You can make the news age appropriate, and as mentioned above, look for the good in the situation.
4. Spend more time together. Your presence is comforting and reassuring. You may find your child acting up in various ways, almost as if they are trying to come up with extra ways to get your attention and feel your comfort. Don’t push them away. Go out of your way to spend more time with them than usual. Be there for them.
For further reading on this subject I recommend the following article: http://www.nasponline.org/