Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

In Communication, Networking, News, Self Improvement on May 16, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I talk to my kid a lot, to stay one social accord, but what about talking to them about:: Crime. Recession. Terrorism. Tsunamis. In our digital age, the news—much of it big, scary and confusing— is everywhere, all the time. And whether it’s on television or radio, in print or online, teens and tweens are constantly exposed to disturbing stories, images and videos that can cause them to view the planet as a threatening, terrifying place. “On the other hand we want our kids to know what’s going on around them,” says Michael Brody, M.D., chair of the television and media committee for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “Problem is, the news is not rated. A lot of it is sensational, horror-story stuff, which means parents need to put things in perspective.” Learn how to talk to your kids about current events, from natural disasters, to politics to war, with these smart strategies. You’ll calm their fears and help them make better sense of those screaming headline. Plus, it’s a starting point for a deeper, ongoing dialogue that will expand their minds and get them thinking about their role and responsibility in the real world.

It may seem obvious, but you can’t discuss the news with your kids until you’re aware of exactly what they know. Expressing an interest in what their friends are thinking is a good way to get them to open up, since adolescents are more likely to share thoughts and ideas that they’ve already discussed with peers. But don’t be impatient if your child seems tight-lipped or flippant. “Sometimes teens don’t ask questions– or they crack jokes about serious issues— because they’re struggling with intense emotions like anger, anxiety or sadness but can’t identify them,” says Ernestine Briggs-King, Ph.D., a director at the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress at Duke University. Parent’s can help kids sort things out by making supportive, encouraging comments such as “You keep bringing that subject up. How is it making you feel?”

Once you start talking, let your child determine the scope of the conversation. “When it comes to the news, the biggest mistake parents make is telling kids too much,” says Brody. Teens of course, are able to understand cause and effect, abstract ideas, and concepts like unpredictability and injustice, but too many specifics can overwhelm them. “It’s like being on the witness stand in a trial,” says Brody. “Don’t blow your case by introducing thing not in evidence. Just answer the questions.”

As sophisticated and tough as they may seem, today’s kids are vulnerable— after all, they’ve grown up in a high-risk world where the threat of terrorism makes daily headlines. As a result, events like earthquakes, civil unrest or even soccer riots can trigger anxiety and unconscious fears. “In a tween’s mind, something terrible happening across the globe could just as easily happen across the street,” says Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, a California-based youth advocacy organization. Teens also still relate to the news, no matter where it occurs, in a personalized way. Kids who read about the war in Afghanistan, for example, might be concerned about its effects on people they know, or what the conflict means for their own future.

Encourage your children to talk to you about what upsets them. You can’t help if you don’t know.

Above all,
be honest when talking to your kids about the news.
Don’t say the world is perfectly safe, but do remind them
of the steps people are taking to make it better.

When a major event happens, it’s all too easy for kids to get the story wrong. they might hear half-truths from friends, glimpse a misleading headline or catch only the most sensationalist teaser on TV—and then start spreading the news. “Super-scary stories have enormous traction among tweens and teens because they’re at an age when emotions are highly contagious,” says pyschologist Dave Walsh, Ph.D., author of Smarter Parenting, Smarter Kids (Free Press).

You can help prevent misconceptions by monitoring your kids’ exposure to the headlines. Share the morning paper with them over breakfast, listen to informative programs on the radio or watch them together on TV. “But don’t just come home and turn on the news, especially when a crisis has occurred,” says Brody. That’s when grim, often violent footage is replayed in a seemingly endless loop and adolescents can develop an excessive fascination even though it scares them.

When you think about it, kids find the news distressing for the same reasons adults do– a sense of helplessness in the face of suffering and the feeling that so much in the world is beyond our control. Parents can help by suggesting ways their kids can step up, whether its going green to combat global warming, sending relief supplies for victims of floods or quakes, or honoring those who’ve sacrificed their lives. “You can do a bake sale to support our troops abroad or round up toys for the children of military families,” Briggs-King says. “It doesn’t have to be big. Just doing something is tremendously empowering and helps kids feel more secure.”

The last two posts [on this site] are of the parental kind
because protecting our kids – is what’s hard on my mind.

I’m listing the good stuff, because I too, am on the parenting team.
I’m Qui
And I found this little piece printed in FAMILY CIRCLE magazine.

by Amanda Robb/ Illustrations by Ronald J. Cala

  1. Reblogged this on Gordon Sports Newsletter and commented:
    Always take in consideration what our kids are going through…

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