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Parenting Press looks at
National Violence

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An Overview on Talking to Your Kids About Violence


10 Tips to Help Kids Deal with Violence


How to Talk to Your Kids About Feelings

An Overview on Talking to Your Kids About Violence:
Help for Parents

All children, young and old, will benefit if parents have created an environment where parents and children can talk about their feelings and reactions to the violence. Healthy kids will allow friends and parents to comfort them, and will be able to comfort themselves to some extent.

For young children, the first step is to turn off the TV and radio. The parent should say something like, “This makes me feel really sad. How does this make you feel?” The parent should open a discussion of feelings, letting the child know it is okay to be afraid, sad, worried or confused. If the child wants to talk about the actual incident, the parent should talk to the child in generalities. For children who have already experienced a loss in their lives, this will be difficult. The repetition of scenes and tales of loss on the TV and radio will make the situation even more difficult for children.

For older children, parents should again open the discussion of feelings by telling children their own feelings. Older children will want to talk about more specifics of the incident, analyzing the attack and asking parents “why?” Parents should emphasize to their children (and remember themselves) that although this is a devastatingly large national tragedy, the chance of it directly impacting their child is small.

Older children who have been exposed to scenes of violence and destruction in the media and movies from an early age may find it difficult to distinguish the real from fiction. Additionally, because the footage we have seen and the stories we have heard have been of building destruction rather than injuries and lives lost, children may not perceive this as violence. Parents should be prepared to discuss with their children what exactly constitutes violence, and they should be prepared to answer countless “whys” from their children.

References for Parents

In its continuing effort to promote Emotional Literacy, Parenting Press has published numerous books to help children and adults understand and deal with feelings. These include I’m Scared, I’m Mad, and I’m Frustrated from the Dealing with Feelings Series by Elizabeth Crary, and The Way I Feel by Janan Cain.

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Last updated February 03, 2017