Helping Children Cope with Politics and World News

Do you recall where you were on January 16, 1991? I do. I was in a dance class at Palmer’s School of Dance. Ms. Patsy, the owner at the time, was instructing my class as Ms. Sandra managed the sound system for her. I’m not sure how Ms. Sandra heard the news, but after calling Ms. Patsy over, my dance teacher went over to speak to the parents. It was not uncommon for most parents to stay while their daughters danced in the one room studio, which was only a few miles from where I grew up. Being that it was small, despite the fact that Ms. Patsy was not speaking to us elementary school girls, we heard the news…the President had announced the launch of Operation Desert Storm.

Many years later, my sister gave birth to a baby boy on another January 16th. He is now one year older than I was on that Wednesday in 1991 when I learned the news that America was at war. Before that day, I had no knowledge of world events or politics. While we had learned some state history, which included the Civil War, in 3rd grade, I didn’t know much about the current state of affairs. Alas, things have changed, and my nephew and his peers have learned a lot more a lot earlier, despite the best efforts of the adults in their lives.

For many children, hearing bits and pieces about the political landscape and world news leads to confusion, questions, and fear. Too young to be given much information on topics ranging from abortion to war, there isn’t much that could be done to assuage these concerns, other than to remind the kids that the adults are working hard to take care of them. But, as adults well know, being told not to be worry is easier said than done. While children should be given age appropriate information, adults should be cautious about what they share with their children and what they show them (or allow them to see) via media (especially social media, where misinformation and fear mongering is rampant). Parents should listen to their children in order to get a grasp on what they may be afraid of, in particular since anxiety is on the rise among children (google it for results from numerous research studies). These fears should be addressed and attempts made to ensure children feel safe and secure. This can be done through reassuring children, praying with them, and spending quality time together as a family are all ways to do just that. Not everything has to be about the serious issues that surround us. Yes, there is a time to mourn. But there is also a time to dance.

dance

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