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Helping children understand current events

Helping children understand current events

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It’s very challenging discussing controversial topics with children regarding current events that are happening across the world.

Many parents may wonder where to start, especially with helping children process war and violence — like the war between Israel and Hamas.

Dr. Danielle Henderson, a clinical psychologist from IU Health, joined Weekend Daybreak to share advice to parents on how to talk to kids about these topics.

“The first step is processing your own emotions,” Henderson said. “Before we’re going to start these conversations with the little people in our lives or maybe even the bigger people in our lives, figuring out our emotions and trying to figure out ways to process and regulate our own emotions before we go into the conversation.”

Henderson also added that weighing the child’s age plays a part in having these hard conversations.

“I think one thing with younger children, like preschool age, we may think, well, we don’t even need to have that conversation. They’re not aware. You know, I really make sure I don’t expose them to the news or different images. But as we know, little ears can be listening when we don’t think they are, or they can be picking up things that we might not be aware of,” she said.

To hear more from Henderson, watch the full interview above.

Talking to kids about war

  • Ask open-ended questions: Ask them about what they’re seeing on social media. We want to be there and be present so that we can help filter what we can and process the information with them.
  • Address behavior changes: If you notice changes, it’s important to address and ask about them quickly. Asking or enforcing a limit on screen time can be helpful during this time.
  • Parents should check in on their own mental health: Be mindful of how you’re feeling so that you can be more present for your children. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” when you lack information, it’s a great opportunity for you to learn with your child.

Emotional warning signs in older children

  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration