How to help children cope with scary news

News just in. “The police are probing the circumstances surrounding the death of a 14-year old […] whose body was found in an unfinished building…” (RJR News, 2018).1

As adults whose anxiety levels increase with each news report nowadays, we tend to forget that disturbing events can also have a strong negative impact on the mental health of our children.  Shielding them from such news reports is nearly impossible in this digital age and may not be the best approach. Experts say that allowing children to express their thoughts and feelings about things that may be bothering them is a key component to maintaining good mental health.2  Parents are encouraged to talk with their children, letting them know it is okay to discuss scary or difficult subjects and that they do not have to deal with these issues alone.

Below are 10 tips on how to help children cope with scary news, provided by the Mental Health Foundation. To access the full guide, visit their website (mentalhealth.org.uk) for the resource titled Talking to your children about scary world news.

  1. A news blackout is rarely helpful
  2. Let them know the facts
  3. Discourage overexposure
  4. Let your children know they are safe
  5. Let them know it is normal to be concerned
  6. Tailor the conversation to their age
  7. Find the right time to talk about it
  8. Leave lots of space for questions
  9. Allow for repetition
  10. Be as truthful as possible

1RJR News (2018, February 18). Police probe death of 14 year old student. RJRNews Online. Retrieved from http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/police-probe-death-of-14-year-old-student

2Mental Health Foundation (2018, January 23). 4 in 10 British parents indicate children are anxious about threat of terrorism. Mental Health Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/news/4-10-british-parents-indicate-children-are-anxious-about-threat-terrorism

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