For health's sake · Talking to your child about big news events

There’s a lot going in the world. The news is filled with natural disasters, horrific tragedies and political situations that can make us sad, angry or just confused. If we can’t handle the news, how can our children?

While it would be great to keep kids in a bubble, they live in this world, too. Even if you keep the television and radio off while your kids are around, chances are they’ll hear things at school, the playground or even at the grocery store.

The question is: What’s the best way to talk to kids about violence, tragedy and current events in a way they’ll understand?

To help uncover the answers, we invited pediatrician Jessica Najarian-Bell – or as her patients know her, Dr. Jessica – to share recommendations on the For Health’s Sake podcast.

Tips for talking to kids about what’s in the news and current events

Kids don’t need a full run-down on the nightly news. But when it comes to big national stories, or local ones that have a big impact on your community, it can be a good idea to have a convo with your kiddo.

The first step? Finding out what your kid knows about the situation. “Ask them what they’ve heard or what questions they have. That’s going to be the best initial approach to it,” she says.

Your child’s answers can help guide the conversation. As you describe the situation, try to stick to the basics and provide accurate information – but spare the graphic details.

Dr. Jessica says it’s also important to reassure your child. Let them know they’re safe and that people are working on solutions.

“When there are positive things, that’s exciting. Sharing those good events is really helpful so kids can see that people are putting positive plans in place,” she says.

For more tips on talking to your child about current news events and natural disasters, listen to the episode that covers:

  • Helping kids understand and cope with tragic news events
  • At what age you should start having these conversations
  • Ways to reassure your child
  • When it’s okay to share your feelings about the news with your kids
  • Book recommendations for talking to children about current new events

The news can be overwhelming. Reach out if your child needs support.

Everything about bad news is hard – hearing it, sharing it and coping with it. Watch for signs of anxiety in your child, such as sleep problems, headaches and signs of emotional distress. If you have concerns about your child’s mental health, talk to their doctor.