Dr. Tamar Chansky - Should I let my child watch the news after a tragedy?

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When a tragedy occurs, parents wonder how they should tell their children about the situation, should they let them watch the news for example and this is a place where there is a strong message from mental professionals that the news is really not geared to children, so it's not really appropriate.

That doesn't mean not to talking to your child about the tragedy that's happened, but there're so many different ways to do that. So we'll talk about that in a second, but make sure that your child isn't in the doorway looking at the television over your shoulder while you're watching because it's just going to create more confusion for them.

They can't distinguish between the fact that they're seeing a car crash, or a plane crash, or a hurricane and realizing they are going to think that it's happening in their life, that they're going to be next or it's happening all the time. So the visuals of the news are really overwhelming to kids, but what can parents do when a tragedy occurs? First thing is, find out what your child already knows.

You really want to start with their own starting point. They may have heard something at school, or from friends, they have questions, so you really want to start there. Remember that you don't have to tell them everything. You really want to gaze it to what your child can handle at that moment.

You may come back another time and fill in more pieces of the puzzle, but you really want to be concrete and simple in your message and just let them know in very simple terms what has happened: plane crashed and many people died or there was huricane in another state and some people lost their houses, but after you do that, what you want to do is help your child know as soon as they hear that information, they going to start feeling like, what do I need to do to protect myself, to protect my family.

So you really want to make sure you tell your kids, who is on the job of taking care of that, so you take that off their to-do list and say, all the people who are helping, who's job it is, everyday to keep you safe. When you talk about tragedy in the news, you really want to focus on safety, rather than own risks.

So you want to reinforce who are the people who are taking care of a situation, who are making doesn't happen again. Kids just don't have a sense of that. It may seem obvious to you, but go ahead and state the obvious, it will be very re-assuring to kids. A final point is you want to make sure that you don't have your family life thrown, your routines and your rituals thrown too much by an event like that.

Kids as much as possible do need routine, it helps them to know that life is going to get back to normal so, if you need help with that from family members or from neighbors to help a routine happen around dinner or bedtime, do get that because your children will really benefit from seeing that life can go back to normal routines.