I went on ABC News Live to discuss how to talk to kids about the Capitol Building Attack. Here are some take-aways:
(1) With younger children, turn off the news cycle- they absorb information like a sponge and yet don’t have the context or framework to understand and process what is happening. As your children get older, and you know your children best, if you feel that they are ready to see the news- co-watch and be prepared to discuss it. For our tweens and teens who may be accessing the news on their own, be sure to know where they are getting their news from so you can ensure they are getting an accurate depiction of what actually happened.
(2) Answer questions and ask questions: Be prepared to answer what happened and how it happened. If you aren’t sure of an answer, you can admit you don’t know or take some time to look it up. Ask questions like; “what would you have done?” “What advice would you have for the adults who were angry about the election results?” “What is the responsibility of our leaders in this situation?” This is when critical thinking is exercised and values are solidified.
(3) Let them know they are safe. Images of people scaling the walls and breaking into the government’s house can be very scary for children. Let them know; “the adults are working hard to make sure you are safe. Make sure they understand that what happened was very rare and show them where it took place on the map. This helps them realize that they are not in danger.
(4) Discuss feelings. It’s ok to admit you are saddened or angry, confused or frustrated. Admitting your feelings can provide permission for your children to talk about their emotions. Of course, if you want to take a deep dive into your frustrations and anger, this is best suited to do with another adult- a friend, a partner, or other adult family member.