5 Tips for Talking With Your Kids About Events in the News

Posted by on Jan 12, 2021 in Featured Slider, News | 0 comments

Hathaway-Sycamores Shefali D’Sa

Shefali D’Sa, LMFT, LPCC

Especially in times of uncertainty, it is natural to turn to the news to stay informed about what is happening in the world. However, studies have shown that negative TV-news can impact our moods and increase anxiety in adults and children alike. Sycamores Assistant Vice President, School-Based Mental Health & Early Education Services Shefali D’Sa, LMFT, LPCC offers tips for talking with your kids about events in the news to help reduce their anxiety.

1.) Watch together.

If children are too anxious, it is ok for them not to watch the news. If they want to watch, watch with them, and use it as a learning opportunity, not entertainment. Ask questions like, “What are your thoughts about what you’re seeing?” or, “What are you wondering about as you see what’s happening?” Share your values, talk about what it means to be living here and now while they watch what is going on in our community, country, or the world.

2.) Explain what’s happening with language that they can understand.

We often tell our kids to “use your words, not your hands,” and those are the types of things we want to continue saying to encourage them to verbalize what they are experiencing. For older children, open the dialogue about their feelings and encourage them to express what they are thinking. Asking open-ended questions like, “What are you most concerned about?” versus asking yes or no questions, helps them process what they are thinking and feeling.

3.) Talk about feelings.

Share your feelings and ask your kids if they are feeling those things too. Suggest feelings if your children seem to be struggling to come up with the right feeling words to describe what’s happening for them. Some feeling words that often resonate include sad, mad, upset, frustrated, worried, nervous, disappointed, and confused.

4.) Validate your kids’ feelings.

Let them know it is ok to feel nervous, sad, or upset about what’s going on. Their feelings most likely mirror ours.

5.) Watch for symptoms of anxiety or stress.

Common symptoms of anxiety or stress include:

  • Not being able to function normally
  • Loss of pleasure in things you typically enjoy
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Over or under-eating
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Physical symptoms can include heart is beating fast, feeling dizzy, headaches, or stomachaches

Getting Help
While these simple steps can ease anxiety, if you are concerned about your child’s mental wellbeing there is help available. Sycamores suggests first talking with your pediatrician in order to rule out any physical-health conditions as a cause. If there are no physical issues, you will likely be referred to a mental-health specialist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or social worker.

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