Talking to children about the news

Story by Claudia Sasse

As a parent I always pondered how much information is too much information for my child… Is my child too young to know what is happening in the news every day?

I remember when I was a child… my dad used to have the news channel on after supper and we all watched it together. We did not have big discussions about what we saw on the daily news, but I clearly recall asking my dad a few questions about what was being forecasted. One big thing at my house was when we would have a price hike on something; it could have been on gas, mortgage rates, school fees; anything about prices going up would make the whole family talk about it for days.

Now, as a mother, I understand that was a great teachable moment of which my parents took advantage to discuss with us about economy and so many other aspects of life based on what we heard on the news.

I always tried to do the same with my daughter, we would watch the news together and she would ask questions about what she was seeing on TV and I would explain the details she missed or did not understand. These days, thankfully, they warn you in advance when there is some sensitive content that will be displayed, which has saved us from a few hurdles! My parents weren’t so lucky….

Parents should be the ones making the decisions about what can be watched in their homes in terms of news or any other broadcasted program on TV. They can assess what their children can watch

Do your children ask questions about what they see on TV? If so, they are showing interest and that is a great time to discuss and share the family’s point of views on what is being broadcasted.

We need to take into consideration their   age, no doubt about that, but knowing your child’s interests will also help with a possible discussion about what is happening in the world and around them every day. As my daughter grew older, I was able to have deeper discussions with her about the daily news, and to my admiration, we had similar points of view on some subjects. Was that a result of my previous discussions where I revealed my perspective on things? Probably. But, isn’t that what we look for when teaching our kids? Don’t we want them to follow in our footsteps?

The baseline is, children will be informed of what is happening in the world no matter what we do, especially these days with the easy access to the Internet. The school brings the news to the classroom to be discussed almost every day; I do that as a teacher as well.

What will make a difference is how our child perceives what is happening around the world, and for that, parents still are the best teachers! Supporting your children to understand what is happening around them every day and helping them to develop their own perspective on events are great learning tools for life.