There’s a lot happening in the news. Natural disasters, claims of sexual abuse, changes in immigration policies. Our children are more aware than we may realize and may start to ask questions about the world around them. What is the best way for a parent to talk to a young child who asks about topics in the news?
We sat down with South Florida psychologist, Dr. Dara Bushman, and asked her to share her insights with us.
Dr. Dara Bushman (DB): Be honest at a level they can understand. It is not necessarily the content we tell kids, but in the manner we do so. Explain how bad choices do not make people bad. Offer an alternative way to think of the situation. Come from an optimistic perspective. (i.e., there may be a war, yet we are so fortunate to have the technology and advancement to keep us safe.)
DB: Ask them what they understand. Ask them their thoughts and concerns. In a calm demeanor it is alright to discuss worry. Children do not need to be free from worry, but made to understand what the concern is.
SFR: How can a parent be sure their child understands?
DB: Trust your instinct to know your child. Children are inquisitive. They are typically expressive if they are confused or have further questions. Allow their inquisition to be your guide. Children are great about absorbing information as it is present opposed to their mind worrying about the past.
DB: Hug them, love them, and discuss gratitude. Talk about what you currently have as strengths and current positive things you know are happening opposed to the fears of what you don’t know can happen. (i.e., this week we are going to the movies vs. what may happen to people elsewhere.)
What do you tell a child about a classmate whose family may have to leave the U.S.?
DB: Sometimes we have to do things we do not like or want to do, but what is most important is for kids to be around people that love them (perhaps their mommy and daddy) and it doesn’t matter where you are, it is most important you are together. Together, kids can be a team with their parents(guardians).
SFR: Lastly, “Mommy, did the President say a bad word?”
DB: The president made a bad choice. We all have different perspectives and perhaps he could have used different words to consider other people’s feelings and how they would feel being spoken to in that way.
Dr. Dara Bushman, Psy.D., NBCCH, RRT
Dr. Dara Bushman is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Certified Rapid Resolution therapist, as well as a National Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. She entered the field ten years ago with an athletic background and a specialty in physical, emotional, and wellness conditioning. Dr. Dara has a diverse clinical background specializing in health and wellness psychology, eating disorders, athletic performance, women’s issues, and hypnosis. She has a successful private practice in South Florida and has been a certified fitness professional for more than 16 years