(CNN)Immediately after the horrific Paris attacks, so many parents took to social media asking this question: What do I tell my kids? How can I talk to them about something so senseless and
indiscriminate? About something that we can’t make sense of ourselves?
“As parents, we are lost,” a mom of two young children, who lives in Paris, told CNN.
“When we feel ourselves bombarded by images of brutal, ruthless violence and evidence of unbridled hate, the question of how to protect our children is a complex one,” said Dr. Claudia Gold,a pediatrician, infant mental health specialist and author of “Keeping Your Child in Mind: Overcoming Defiance, Tantrums and Other Everyday Behavior Problems by Seeing the World through Your Child’s Eyes.” “We immediately jump to ask, ‘What do I say?’ ”
(CNN)Immediately after the horrific Paris attacks, so many parents took to social media asking this question: What do I tell my kids? How can I talk to them about something so senseless and indiscriminate? About something that we can’t make sense of ourselves?
“As parents, we are lost,” a mom of two young children,
I consulted for this story stressed that the age of children and their temperament really determines what — and how much — to share.
Limiting media exposure is key
If possible, children younger than 5 do not need to be told about what happened or exposed to any of the media coverage, said Tricia Ferrara, a licensed professional counselor, parenting strategist and author of “Parenting 2.0: Think in the Future, Act in the Now.” “Keeping to routine is the best way to reassure children about the safety of their immediate world,” she said.
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Children ages 6 to 11 need just basic facts and minimal exposure to media coverage, she said, adding that there are definite lessons from what children saw in the media following the September 11, 2001, attacks. She points to studies that found that children who had repeated and prolonged exposure to media images had more difficulty with anxiety than kids with less exposure.
In a statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics urged parents to be careful with images that children see following the Paris terror attacks. “As pediatricians, we know that violence can have lasting effects on children even if they are only learning about it through the media,” the statement said. The organization offered more resources for parents on how to talk to children about mass tragedies.