Talking to Your Preschooler About the News

Talking to Your Child about the News

A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that 65% of children live a household where the television is on at least 50% of the day. The same study revealed that children are impacted by the TV programming, even if they are not directly watching it. Most television programming is not appropriate for them, including the news. Even if parents do not watch the news around their child, children are still exposed to it elsewhere.  

Teachers are noting that children as young as five are commenting on news events that they have seen on television.  

 Developmentally, preschoolers will act out events they have seen on the news through their play and artwork.  If a child is worried or curious about a news event, such as a shooting or bombing, his play may be filled with violent dialogue and actions.  You can help your child process these events by assuring him that he is safe.  While talking to your child, give concrete examples of things you do to keep him safe.  As an example, if your child is worried about a “bad guy breaking in to your house” you can show him how you lock the doors to stay safe.

{ MORE:  My Sick Preschooler }

Dr. Paul Coleman, author of How to Say It to Your Child When Bad Things Happen, recommends letting your child bring up the topic.  If she does not appear to have knowledge about a major news event, let it be.  If she is talking about it first find out what she knows about the news event.  Then ask follow-up questions, such as “What did you hear?”  If she appears scared, ask her what she is afraid of.  Kids' logic can be very different from what we perceive as adults.  A child who saw a building on fire may be afraid that their house is going to burn down.  Since a preschooler does not understand the concept of probability, be reassuring and use simple language.  You might say, “Our house is safe and mommy and daddy are always here to protect you.”

If you are having a hard time talking to your child about a particular event, because you are still processing the details, sit down and play.  Provide your child with art materials, dolls, stuffed animals, and blocks to explore how he or she feels.  Let your child take the lead and continue to reassure them that they are safe.  

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What current events has your child asked you about and how did you respond?  

What do you think?

Talking to Your Preschooler About the News

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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