Well, my Friday morning this week included having my son’s elementary school evacuated because of some nut job on Twitter randomly threatening to blow up the school! Thankfully, everything was fine and local police did a great job of handling the situation. But of course, it scared many children (and parents) and once again reminded us that there are scary people and scary things that happen in the world everyday. That why it is important to be prepared to talk to your kid about scary things that come up.
I instinctively went to school, as did many parents, to get my son and make sure that he was ok. We talked about the situation and I made sure that he wasn’t scared and understood what happened. Great communication with your child is paramount in raising smart and aware kids. We can’t shy away from the tough subjects.
How To Talk Your Kid About Scary Stuff They May Have Seen On The News Or Heard About
Here are a few great tips on how to talk to children about scary things that sometimes happen.
LET YOUR KIDS START THE CONVERSATION
There is a lot of frightening news that we all read, see, or hear every day. You don’t need to talk to your kids about everything but, if they ask, definitely start the conversation. Perhaps someone was talking about it at school or they saw it on tv. If they’re asking about it, it’s on their mind and it’s good to talk it out.
TAKE YOUR CHILDREN SERIOUSLY
Don’t dismiss your child’s feelings or tell them that you will explain it when they’re older. Kids are more aware than we realize and allowing them to ask questions and tell you something that is on their mind will solidify that they can talk to you about anything. Their feelings are valid and they should feel that they have permission to share them.
TELL THEM IT’S OK
Kids have seriously big imaginations and they are at a developmental stage where they will internalize everything. They will think about how this will effect them, will it happen to them, or someone close to them? Assure them that they are safe, that things will be okay, and let them know it is fine to talk to you about their fears any time. Allow your child to express what they’re feeling. Then validate and reassure.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
You don’t want to overwhelm your child with too many details, but you do want to answer their questions. Keeping the answers brief and simple will help kids follow and understand the conversation.
HELP THEM WITH THEIR EMOTIONS
Children don’t always have all the words for what they are feeling and that in itself can be scary. Kids may not understand that it is okay to be angry, upset, sad, or scared so helping them identify what they’re feeling can help them start to deal with all of it and move forward.
You don’t want to lie to your kids – you want to be honest in your answers, even if your answer is “I don’t know.” As I always say, you don’t need all the answers. You don’t need to be perfect – you just need to be present.
It’s not a bad thing to seek professional counseling for managing grief or scary news. There is no shame in getting good advice and help for your child and yourself. You can do family therapy or have someone for your child to talk to on their own.
The world is a scary place but you have all the tools you need to make it just a little bit less scary for your children. As always, take nothing for granted and cherish every moment with your child. Life can change in the blink of an eye.
I hope these tips were helpful for you in figuring how to talk to your kids about scary stuff. Which tips were your favorite? Do you have any experiences with this you’d like to share?
Rob Youngblood is an Emmy Award Winning TV Host, Passionate and Inspiring Speaker, Communication Coach, and A Guy Who Talks for a Living! Learn more about him at youngbloodonthecoast.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.