How to Talk to Your Kids About The News

A parent’s guide to starting the conversation about political violence, racism, pandemics, and other difficult topics.

Image credit: Anek Soowannaphoom. Shutterstock.

Kids fill in the dots, they connect things that happen in the world out there to things that are happening in their world.

First, keep teaching them about history.

“[Name issue here] is a pretty complex problem. It can’t be solved overnight or with one person, but it’s important we talk about this. We can come together with our friends and family and your school to discuss what happened. We can read some books that might help us.” (See reading list at end of article)

Speak simply and truthfully but don’t conceptually oversimplify what is occurring.

“Yesterday I was pretty upset and angry or [fill in emotion]. I think you probably could tell that something was happening. You can always ask me questions about things you hear or things you see your parents do, but I will also tell you what’s going on. In our house, we talk about things that are confusing, scary or surprising. Nothing is off the table here.”

What did you hear about the events yesterday?

What are you seeing on social media?

What do your friends make of it?

What do you think about what’s happening?

How do you feel right now?

It makes total sense you’d feel that way. There is so much to take in right now.

Is it okay with you if I share a little bit about how I’ve been feeling? I’ve been pretty distracted today because I’m angry [or sad or fill in here]. I’ve been worried about [x]. So if I’m acting more annoyed or distant [fill in] today, it’s because of that. I want to keep talking to you about this stuff, I want to hear what you think about it. We can figure out what to do together.

A lot of excellent people have written about how to talk to kids:

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Grin Lord

Grin Lord

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Dr. Lord is a board certified, licensed psychologist who innovates AI mental health interventions. Her mission is to help people learn how to listen.👂🏼💗🦻🏽