According to parenting specialist Betsy Brown Braun, children 7 and under should be protected, to the best of our ability, from the daily news when tragedy strikes. They should be sheltered by turning off the television, changing the radio station and keeping the Internet news pages closed. I would agree that this is sage advice. Unfortunately there are times that the news of the world leaks into that sheltered haven and we as parents need to be able to deal with the fallout.
The current news stories have inspired a strange celebration of a military action that resulted in someone’s death. Amidst all the confusing political information, this is what kids will glean from the information overload. They are acutely tuned in to the sounds in their environment even when it seems they are lost in their world of play.
If your child seems oblivious to the news then consider yourself fortunate, but keep an eye out for signs that your child is anxious. This anxiety may appear in a sudden difficulty to sleep or changes in eating patterns. It may look like the early days of separation anxiety when they clung to you intensely. Or it could just appear in subtle ways, such as their seeming out of sorts or being especially in need of attention.
If they are old enough to be exposed to current events then make sure you address what is going on in the news in a clear and non-emotional way. Answer the questions that are posed to you simply and honestly and offer constant reassurances that you and they are safe.
The more your child understands about the situation the less likely they are to be nervous or fearful. Let them know that you are doing what you are able to do to keep the family safe (which in this case may mean limiting travel for the time being) and explain to your child the great unlikelihood of this particular danger affecting them directly.
Keep an open line of communication and, if it is a topic being discussed at school, check in with them at the end of the day to find out what they have learned and help them to process the information. In addition to the dialogue, try to keep life as normal and routine as possible. Consistency is extremely comforting to children of all ages.