While it feels increasingly common, when the news cycle often brings unsettling stories into our homes, it can be tough for parents to find the right approach to discuss such events with their young ones, or even know if they should. Here we share some thoughtful strategies to help you navigate these challenging conversations, ensuring you, and your little ones, feel secure and supported.

How to navigate this news with the family can depend heavily on the age and maturity of the members.

During a time in which the news may make us feel defeated and deflated, or fearful and stressed, we hope we can support parents in addressing global events sensitively and thoughtfully, especially important given that young children are always looking and listening.

Limit exposure

 Young children’s exposure to news should be limited, according to experts.  This can be done by turning off the TV during news broadcasts and restricting children’s access to your social media channels to shield them from disturbing images. It’s also advisable to limit discussions about frightening events around young children, saving such conversations for after they’ve gone to bed. While some exposures may be unavoidable, these steps help protect your little ones from unnecessary distress.

Stay attuned to child’s mood

For small children, they may not be able to verbalise their feelings, so in times of stress, or if you think your child may know what’s going on in the news, be attuned to any changes in mood or behaviour. These changes in your child could include:

  • Becoming more withdrawn
  • Reluctance to go out
  • Asking lots of questions
  • Acting out aggressively
  • Having sleep issues
  • Changes in appetite

Understanding your child’s awareness of current events

Start by gauging what your little ones already know about a current event. For school-age children, inquire about their knowledge from school or social media. It’s important to consider the developmental stage of your child, as younger ones may struggle to distinguish fact from fantasy, typically gaining this ability around the ages of seven or eight years.

If your child shows disinterest or reluctance to discuss the event, respect their feelings and try avoid repeatedly pressing them further, but remind them you’re always there to listen or even just when they need to cuddle.

Responding to concerns with care

Be present for your child and prepared for questions. When addressing questions from children, it’s important to be honest yet selective about the details you share. Aim to alleviate fears and provide reassurance to your little ones because you’re their safe place. Listen attentively to their concerns, especially after distressing news events. Address any fears about personal safety by being present during this time and don’t dismiss your children’s fears and concerns.

It’s perfectly acceptable to admit if you don’t know an answer; take it as an opportunity to explore the answer together using age-appropriate resources.

Meanwhile, keep monitoring what your child is watching and limit repeated exposure to potentially distressing news, as the repeated exposure during these 24-hour news cycles can drive a child to dwell on what they’ve seen and heard.

 

Focus on the positive

Some adults may remember American children’s TV star from the 1970s and 80s Fred Rogers, who once shared advice that still could be applied today. He said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” If children hear about a car accident, talk about the brave bystanders and paramedics who quickly arrive on the scene. If they hear about war abroad, you could about all the ways people come together to help those in need – providing aid, opening their homes, and raising money. This could and should segue into a conversation about how as a family you could help people who’ve experienced adversity or traumatic situations, like a house fire or homelessness.

Adjust your language and approach

Appropriate age-language is important here, because young brains just aren’t developed enough to understand some of the harsh realities of the human experience. Even something simple like using the verb ‘hurt’ rather than killed, murdered, stabbed, etc all of which are verbs that could scar young children.

Sarah Bergman, a psychotherapist with Counselling on the Coast, says parents should also be aware of their own conversations, actions and moods, because children can be very attuned to their parents. She agrees that if parents are noticing changes in their children, they should provide a little extra care and attention, but says they should mindful of giving over-the-top anxious attention as this can further little ones’ worries.

“It may just be that parents provide more presence to their little ones at this time, allowing opportunities for anything that needs to emerge and it may just be a little bit longer snuggle at bedtime, where they integrate a felt sense of warmth and safety, that all is ok in their little worlds with mum and dad as their protector,” Sarah suggests.

Finally, if you’re concerned about your child, this is a conversation to have with early childhood educators and your Little Scholars campus manager. We’re on your family’s team, so please tell them about any behavioural changes you’ve noticed, what you’ve done at home and what your wishes are for while they’re in childcare. 

Our educators have been trained in trauma response and can even offer insight into your child or suggestions on how to further navigate the difficult feelings they may be experiencing.

Sources:

Disasters, the media and your child

How to Talk to Your Child About the News

How to talk with kids about traumatic news stories

What an incredible asset online media has become when it comes to raising or educating children. From YouTube to Instagram, there’s a wealth of expert information at your fingertips that previous generations simply didn’t have. Thanks to online media, parents and educators can now access an array of information, tips, and tricks on child development, parenting, and education.

And of course, podcasts are an excellent way to learn while on the go. You can listen to them while commuting, during your daily walk, or even before bed. Here we have compiled a list of our favorite parenting and child development podcasts, divided into categories for parents and educators. Check them out!

For parents

Raising Wildings

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A podcast about parenting, alternative education and stepping into the wilderness with children. Each week, Nicki Farrell and Vicci Oliver interview experts who inspire them to answer questions about parenting and education. They also share stories from families who took the leap, and are taking the road less travelled.

Spotify  Apple Podcasts

Parental as Anything

Maggie Dent, one of Australia’s favourite parenting authors and educators gives you practical tips and answers to your real-world parenting dilemmas.

Spotify  ABC Listen app  Apple Podcasts

Respectful Parenting: Janet Lansbury Unruffled

Each episode of Unruffled addresses a reader’s parenting issue through the lens of Janet’s respectful parenting philosophy, consistently offering a perspective shift that ultimately frees parents of the need for scripts, strategies, tricks, and tactics.

Spotify  Apple Podcasts

Emerging Minds

Listen to conversations with experts on a variety of topics related to children’s mental health. Episodes offer practice wisdom from experts in the field and will give you an insight into the work and values of the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health.

RCH Kids Health Info

Based on the popular RCH Kids Health Info fact sheets, the Kids Health Info podcast explores common topics and concerns with experts in children’s health. Hosts Margie Danchin, Lexi Frydenberg and Anthea Rhodes are all paediatricians and mums, so they know first-hand what keeps parents up at night. Every episode features guest experts in a range of child and adolescent health specialties, and lots of practical tips and advice.

Spotify    Apple Podcasts 

How other Dads Dad

Hamish Blake chats with other dads he really admires about their approach to ‘dadding’, and in the process hopefully learn a little, steal some of their hard earned wisdom and help dads dad a tiny bit better.

Spotify  Apple Podcasts  Google Podcasts

The Play Based Learning Podcast

All humans learn through play. Join Kristen RB Peterson of Learning Wild as she chats all things early childhood education, preschool, nature and forest school, homeschool and parenting.

Spotify   Apple Podcasts

Play it forward, a Wearthy podcast

Hosted by international keynote speaker, educator and founder of Wearthy; Lukas Ritson, Play it Forward is an educational podcast about the importance of play. With the increase of technological advancement, it has never been harder to get kids playing outside

Spotify   Apple Podcasts

Early Childhood Perspectives

 

Early Childhood perspectives is a fortnightly podcast devoted to exploring the often overlooked concepts and issues of the Australian Early Years Sector.

Apple Podcasts    Soundcloud

Provoking Minds – an Early Childhood Podcast

This podcast covers meaningful topics in early childhood education with some of the sector’s most experienced educators and subject matter experts. With each short episode, its aim is to provoke minds and inspire excellence in early childhood education.

Spotify         Apple Podcasts

OSHC After The Bell

Barbi Clendining from Firefly HR and Saurubh Malviya from We Belong Education have teamed up to bring to you a fun and informative conversation and talk about every aspect of the Out of School Hours profession.

Spotify   Apple Podcasts

International podcasts

OK, we fibbed. It’s not JUST Australian podcasts. Here’s a few international podcasts that are quite popular with the kids these days. (and by kids, we don’t mean baby goats, or children really, but we’re just trying to sound cool)

Loose Parts Nature Play

Building creativity one leaf and bolt at a time. Join Dr. Carla Gull, American educator and mother of four boys, as she talks about getting outside and exploring loose parts.

Spotify   Apple Podcasts

Parenting Hell

A funny take on parenting with UK hosts Rob & Josh as they share their tales of parenting woe and chat to celebrity parents about how they’re coping, or not coping.

Spotify

Mom and Dad Are Fighting

Slate’s parenting show – Jamilah Lemieux, Zak Rosen, and Elizabeth Newcamp share triumphs and fails and offer advice on parenting kids from toddler to teens.

Spotify      Apple Podcasts       YouTube

Good Inside with Dr Becky

Join American clinical psychologist and mother of three Dr. Becky Kennedy on her weekly podcast, as she takes on tough parenting questions and delivers actionable guidance—all in short episodes, because we know time is hard to find as a parent. Her breakthrough approach has enabled thousands of people to get more comfortable in discomfort, make repairs after mistakes, and always see the good inside.

Spotify     Apple Podcasts

Not Another Mummy Podcast

This is one of the UK’s top parenting podcasts with previous guests including Philippa Perry, Dr Rangan Chatterjee, Emma Bunton and more. Host Alison Perry chats to a different guest each episode about parenting and family issues

The Modern Dads Podcast

Each episode discusses issues today’s fathers face navigating work, parenthood, relationships and play. We share stories of dads who are active and engaged in the decisions, the drudgery, and the pains and the joys of parenthood. Our parenting podcast not only brings modern dads into the conversation, but also – regardless of gender – our spouses and partners, friends and colleagues, and leaders in business, entertainment and media.

Spotify      Apple Podcasts

 
 
 

 

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