There are some things you cannot shield your child from in life. Death, mass tragedies, mental illness, and cancer being a few of these things. Recently, we have all been overwhelmed by the horrific tragedy of the Las Vegas shooting. No reason, no motive. 59 dead, many more injured at an event that everyone should have remembered as a fun event. As if our adult-sized hearts weren’t crushed enough after hearing of such a senseless act, we are now left staring into the innocent eyes of our own child also questioning what is going on and why. You quietly ask yourself “How can I even begin to explain something to a child that I don’t completely understand myself?” But you sigh and realize that in this day in age, hearing or seeing information about an event in the media is inevitable. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you speak to your child about the recent tragedy and many other difficult topics in the future.
First of all, the amount you subject your child to (watching on TV, listening on radio, or reading) should be something you consider appropriate for the individual child’s maturity level. Try not to think about those Facebook trollers who constantly criticize every single parenting technique. You are the best judge for what is right for your child. It is also very important to talk about the things your child reads, sees, or hears. Sometimes it’s too much and they might need to hear it in simpler or kinder words.
Second of all, when they come home in a full blown panic attack because Little Jimmy at school told them someone’s building bombs to drop on us, talk with them about how not all media is 100% accurate. Unfortunately, some websites are more interested in having the top ratings rather than sharing genuine facts. Do some research on your own , find some informative articles to share with your child and then gently explain that not everyone in this big tough world will always tell them the truth. Help them discover how to find things that do speak truth and facts instead of looking for a rating.
Show your own feelings. Allow them to see some emotion behind what you’re informing them about. If you are talking about the recent tragedy of Las Vegas, allow them to see the sadness you feel for those who were lost and their families. You do not have to be an emotional train wreck, but when they do see some emotions in you as a parent, you show them that it is alright to feel those things. It is human. It is how you hope some day they will react to tragic events as well.
Lastly, follow your gut. Always. Your intuition and knowledge of your own child will help guide you in situations when your child is curious or wondering about world events. Be open, be honest, be a safe place to discuss. You know how much they can comprehend and what would scare them to death at night. No matter how much we’d love to forever shelter our children from the darkness of the world, sometimes we just have to let them live.