How Much News Should Your Children Watch?

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How Much News Should Your Children Watch?

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The world can be a very scary place, and today’s non-stop news being transmitted in every medium imaginable, whether on social media or TV, it can be a challenge deciding how, or if, to let your child see it. As a parent, you need to be the filter through which information is delivered. This requires a solid approach of how to discuss upsetting real world events with your children while also providing reassurance. Finding Allen family counselors who specialize in children’s therapy such as the ones at I Choose Change can also be extremely helpful.

Planning for Self Awareness

By the time children hit 7 or 8 years old, Kids Health says that what they might see on the news on TV becomes a reality, rather than something in which they’re not involved. At this age, kids have a level of self awareness that allows them to project frightening events onto themselves. This is an important reason why keeping age in mind is essential. A kid who’s 8 or 9 is going to know the difference between violence occurring in an episode of their favorite cartoon versus a report on a terrorist attack overseas that killed hundreds of people. It’s up to you to help them work through this kind of overwhelming information, discuss in age appropriate language what happened, and then provide lots of reassurance that they’re safe.

You’re In the Driver’s Seat

The American Psychological Association suggests a key tactic to discussing bad news with a child is to guide the conversation. Two powerful tactics include being honest about your own feelings and offering reassurance. This can apply to both personal tragedies as well as world tragedies, but the news can be unavoidable and out of your control. Helping your child to find coping mechanisms and a rock in a parent is important to ensure their well being and mental health. Counseling can help, though, if your child is having difficulty processing events. Allen family counselors like I Choose Change offer a roster of different types of therapy for both the family and children of all ages. Good therapy focuses on the patient’s needs, whether an adult or child.

Just Turn It Off

This is a simple approach. Salon advises simply shutting off the news, especially at the top of the hour. It’s inevitable that kids are going to get news and information from their peers and social situations, but you can control what goes on in your own home. Once you cut off the non-stop reporting, you need to focus on reassurance and safety.

Adjust Your Language for Explanations

Scholastic has great advice on how to explain terrifying events to children at all ages, but the key is to alter your language and way of communicating based upon the age of the child. Using words that the child relates to, like “mean” or describing actions as “wrong” is a good way to have a meaningful conversation with the about events that crop up in the news. This also helps them process scary emotions and confusion.

The bottom line is that it may be advisable to simply not let your children watch the news at all. Have the information delivered through the controlled environment of conversation. Age also plays a major role, since young children aren’t going to have as much access to the news and information as older ones.

Remember, kids don’t need to see graphic violence or horrible acts on TV to register fear and dismay at world events. Don’t unnecessarilyhave your child watch the news in order to then guide your conversation and deliver reassurance. It’s up to you to help your child process their feelings while providing an underlying sense of safety.

This can be augmented by paying a trip to an Allen family counseling center with I Choose Change therapists who can help you and your child work through these types of discussions. Turn off the TV, get the facts, and get ready to sit down and have some difficult conversations.

About the Author:

Jennifer Slingerland Ryan knows a thing or two about kids and families. First, she knows they are joyous, exhilarating, loving and so darn fun. Second, she knows they suck your life dry and make you weep like a baby.

By day she’s a psychotherapist; by night she’s a mom and wife. She claims to love therapizing couples, educating parents, reading dystopian fiction and sleeping in her free time (read: she never sleeps).

Jennifer has spent over 12 years in private practice working with individuals, couples, and parents who are faced with kid-drama, mamma-drama, and family-drama, and she claims that although some stories make a grown woman cry, she loves it.