We’re all very shaken, from the Buffalo shooting targeting a grocery store in Buffalo’s Black community, to another elementary school shooting in Texas. And, the shootings before that … the war starting before that … and the countless lives taken from gun violence before that …
As adults, we may be finding it harder to find optimism and harder to process news as it comes in. This difficulty to process and understand is hard for our children too. One of the most important messages that I’ve learned we can share with children and teens when they’re feeling anxious is, “I’m sad about the news, and I’m worried. But I love you, and I’m here to care for you.”
Whether from TV news reports, the car radio, social media, or discussions by adults or their peers, children are often bombarded with information about the world around them. And even when the adults in their life try to shelter them from frightening news, kids are often exposed to far more of it than their family may realize.
As caregivers, it can be hard to find quality resources to help our families navigate tragedies in our world. I’ve compiled a short list of resources below and want to start with these tips from PBS Kids.
- Do your best to keep the television off, or at least limit how much your child sees of any news event.
- Try to keep yourself calm. Your presence can help your child feel more secure.
- Give your child extra comfort and physical affection, like hugs or snuggling up together with a favorite book. Physical comfort goes a long way towards providing inner security. That closeness can nourish you, too.
- Try to keep regular routines as normal as possible. Children and adults count on their familiar pattern of everyday life.
- Read more in the PBS Kids For Parents Page.
Ages 3 to 7
For younger kids on coping with worries, The Don’t Worry Book (ages 3-5) https://www.amightygirl.com/the-don-t-worry-book,
For a simple yet powerful picture book that reassures kids that the world is filled with helpful and friendly people — and serves as a counterpoint to scary news stories, Most People. ( ages 4-7), https://amzn.to/3wKwNzL
Ruby Finds A Worry (ages 4-7) https://www.amightygirl.com/ruby-finds-a-worry)
The Whatifs (ages 4-8) https://www.amightygirl.com/the-whatifs
Ages 6 to 12
What to Do When the News Scares You
This new addition to the bestselling What-To-Do series will help kids become more informed consumers of media by introducing them to media techniques such as reporters’ efforts to add excitement to stories which may also make threats seem more imminent and extreme. And if kids start to worry or become anxious about things they’ve heard, the guide shares tips on how kids can feel calmer and more in control. Hands-on and interactive, it encourages kids to respond to what they are learning by writing down their thoughts or drawing pictures in guided activity sections. This new guide is an invaluable resource for kids growing up in a world that can often feel awash in upsetting news.
What To Do When You Worry Too Much
Something Bad Happened:
A Kid’s Guide to Coping With Events in the News
Ages 9 to 13+
Outsmarting Worry (ages 9-13)
The Anxiety Workbook for Teens (13+)
For more books to help kids of all ages manage their worries, visit A Mighty Girl’s blog post, 25 Books to Help Kids Overcome Anxiety, Worry, and Fear.
Shannon Boston is the Executive Director of Lifespan Religious Education at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, OK. If you would like to connect with Shannon as a resource for children, youth and families, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more resources, read her post Helping Families Process Current Events.