The 24-hour-news cycle is ingrained into most adults' lives. Global conflict, natural disasters and crime make their way into in our daily discussions with a sense of normalcy. But for the young and impressionable, the news can paint a rather grim portrait of the world. So how do you go about explaining disturbing world events to your children?
"They do internalize it, and oftentimes they don’t ask the questions – they just carry them," she says. "They worry about it. They make up stories in their own head about their own danger. The first thought for children around things like that is 'that could be me' or 'that could be my mom and dad.'"
While many parents are concerned with content in media like video games or primetime TV, many overlook news broadcasts. Ford says that for children younger than nine or 10, news may be entirely too much to handle, and that parents should block what their children see.
Ford says adults should pay attention to a child’s emotional state.
“I think when you start seeing a child that becomes more clingy, or more fearful in situations where in the past they’ve not been … that’s a good sign they’ve been exposed to something or heard something that’s been very scary for them,” she says.
Unlike adults and their broader view of the world, children often worry about being personally affected or harmed by such events. Coupled with an active imagination, that can lead to stress and anxiety as children cycle through their fears.
Ford says that ultimately, the question is really about assurance.
“I can’t promise my child that I’m never going to die, but what I can promise my child is that there will always be someone there that loves them and takes care of them," she says. "When they know that – that eases an immense amount of anxiety.”