Nerve-racking news—often accompanied by graphic video footage—is available 24/7 on TVs, phones, tablets, and computers.
And children are watching.
How can you keep your children from becoming overwhelmed by disturbing news reports?
How are children affected by the news?
Many children are upset by tragedies they see on the news. Some children might not openly express their feelings, but a tragic news report may disturb them deeply. a Their anxiety might be heightened if their parents are unduly anxious.
Children may misinterpret what they see on the news. For example, some conclude that what they have seen will happen to their family. And young children who watch repeated video footage of a disturbing incident may think that it is occurring repeatedly.
Children may have trouble putting the news in perspective. They may not realize that news agencies are businesses that profit from having a large audience. Therefore, a report may be sensationalized to keep the attention of anxious viewers.
How can you help your children deal with news anxiety?
Limit their exposure to tragic news. This does not mean that your children should be oblivious to what is happening in the world. But little good is accomplished when they watch or hear a disturbing news story related over and over.
“Sometimes we talk in detail about a news report, not realizing how overwhelming it is for our children who overhear us.”—Maria.
Bible principle: “Worry is a heavy burden.”—Proverbs 12:25, Contemporary English Version.
Listen patiently, respond empathetically. If it is difficult for your child to talk about the event, suggest that he draw a picture about it instead. Address your child’s concerns using terms he will understand, but avoid discussing needless details about the event.
“Our daughter seems to feel better after we sit and listen to her. What doesn’t help is telling her, ‘This is the way things are now, and we have to get used to it.’”—Sarahi.
Bible principle: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak.”—James 1:19.
Help your child put news reports in perspective. For example, a report of an abduction may make a crime like that seem much more likely to occur than it really is. Explain to your children what measures you have taken to keep them safe. Also, keep in mind that a tragedy is usually considered newsworthy because it is rare—not because it is common.
“Help your children through their emotions. Often, emotions follow thoughts, so if we help our children focus on something positive, they will be able to see clearer skies.”—Lourdes.
Bible principle: “The heart of the wise one gives his mouth insight and adds persuasiveness to his speech.”—Proverbs 16:23.
a Younger children might show their anxiety by reverting to bed-wetting or by being afraid to go to school and be separated from their parents.