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How To Properly Break Difficult News Out to Your Children

As a parent, communication and maintaining an open and honest relationship is one of the most important tasks for your child’s development and to keep a healthy and interactive relationship. While every parent’s instinct is to protect their children from dangers, violence, trauma, or other tragedies, children’s lives could still be regularly touched by trauma without the parents realizing it. 

How can difficult news affect your children if not addressed properly?

Cottonbro/ Pexels | Avoid minimizing or dismissing your child’s feelings

With technology actively taking control over our lives and doing the heavy lifting, kids are now bound to find out the news one way or another. This could happen through tweets, posts, breaking news, or alert notifications sent directly to the phone.

This news can vary from a horrific mass shooting, terrorist attack, murder or suicide, violent political rally, or the global pandemic. Such conversations do not seem easy, and parents often take a proactive stance and avoid complex topics altogether.

Some kids have a challenging time understanding and coping with the news events, while children in their teens usually cope and understand the current situation and face the challenges. A piece of terrible news can eventually be threatening or upsetting, affecting kids emotionally and mentally. The feeling of fear, anxiousness, stress, anger or even guilt last for an extended period that can affect them later in life and throughout their child development. 

How to break difficult news

Here are some tips to help you address the news and current events to your little ones:

  1. Always consider the age of your child before opening up about the topic. Your child must be age-appropriate and must understand and comprehend the situation as it is.

    Mikhail Nilov/ Pexels | Distressed behavior can take many forms, including aggression. anger, physical and verbal abuse

  2. Encourage your little ones to process the story through play and art as children try to understand what is going on in their minds through creative activities such as art. On some occasions, it can be pretty disturbing to see children reenact or draw something violent or scary, but it allows parents to understand where their child stands emotionally.
  3. You must maintain a calm and safe environment when discussing a complex topic. Children always look up to their parents and reflect their elders’ reactions as their own. If you stay calm and rational, the kids will too.

    Pixabay/ Pexels | Children who are unable to express themselves often grow up as unhealthy adults

  4. Honesty is the key element to keep the situation under control. Start the discussion by laying out all the facts at a level they can easily understand. Filter out the necessary points that give too much detail that could put them in distress.
  5. Give your kid a safe space to open up, reflect and share. Share your feelings and ask them about theirs. Give your child a chance to see how a particular situation has upset you so they can learn to acknowledge their feelings and learn how to pull themselves together. In simpler words, you must be their role model even on emotional terms. 

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