Today, half of the country that did not vote for the current US President Elect Donald Trump woke up wondering what to tell their children about his win. Some started off the conversation this morning, sent their kids off to school and are waiting until later to have a heart to heart to discuss concerns, apprehension and fears.
These tips from PBS are helpful in brokering this topic and any complex or difficult piece of news:
Sometimes —even if your kids don’t want to talk about the news— it’s important to find a way to talk anyway.
These conversations are particularly useful if the news has a direct effect on your children’s life , such as when security at the airport increases before a family trip. Discussions about disturbing events are equally important —for example when a hurricane displaces thousands of people or a local crime causes panic in the community. Talking about wars, elections, and even holidays helps children gain an awareness of the world around them and their place within it.
When to have these discussions depends on the age and stage of your child. While you might be concerned about starting a conversation with a child as young as five, be aware that kids this age are likely to hear about the news at school or on the playground even if they don’t watch or read it at home. And they will be less anxious hearing about disturbing news if they have heard it from you first.
Initiating a discussion with kids over the age of eight presents its own set of challenges, particularly if your older child’s response is “We talked about it at school, already!” Be aware that some children will be anxious to talk about current events while others may show little interest. Take the lead from your child on how detailed a conversation should be or how long it should last. “You don’t need to put pressure on your older kids,” says Diane Levin, Ph.D., “but you might simply reply, ‘well what did you talk about?'”
While specific events may change, the conversational themes remain the same. And the amount of interest in the news increases with age. The discussion-starters below, suggested by advisors Jane Katch and Diane Levin, are presented by topic —with suggestions on what to ask, what to listen for, how to soothe, and how to keep the conversation going.