War in the Middle East: Parenting experts discuss protecting children from graphic images
A parenting expert explains best practices for discussing the war in the Middle East with children as graphic images and videos swirl on social media.
“They’re really haunting,” Laura Woolridge, a parent from Monticello, said. “We are a homeschooling family and I believe in protecting my kids, but not keeping them in a bubble.”
The Woolridge family watches kid-friendly videos daily that break down what’s happening in the world, regardless of whether it’s good or bad.
She explained the content isn’t graphic, but sometimes it’s hard to digest.
“We might talk about it and say, ‘We should care about this. Is there anything we can do?’ Or that it’s just something important to know,” Woolridge said.
Some parents are finding ways to navigate a tough situation of explaining war to kids.
“I don’t know how I’m going to navigate it,” Ashely Venbow, parent, said. “My biggest concern is giving her [daughter] the space to process it and feel safe enough to ask questions.”
Jen Kiss is a certified parent coach and owner of Happy Parenting and Families.
She’s trained to assist families in dealing with stressful situations.
“I always recommend that parents really start by thinking about this ahead of time, because it’s going to feel overwhelming when your child comes to you to begin with,” Kiss said. “If you don’t let your kids know what’s going on to help fill in those gaps, they’re going to fill it in themselves and a child’s imagination can be a lot scarier than the real world.”
She explained keeping the conversations about war age-appropriate makes it easier.
“You might say to your toddler or to your preschooler, ‘This makes mom feel upset too. How does it make you feel?’” Kiss said. “You want that conversation because you want them to come to you so that you can help them through that.”
For teens, Kiss suggests letting them lead the conversation and be that listening ear but keeping it simple.
“Not necessarily talking about the overall arching theme of politics and war and violence and everything like that,” she said.
Kiss explained it’s best to address the conversation head-on and keep kids and teens in the know.
Experts added there are some signs you should look out for to see if your kids are struggling with digesting content about war.
For younger children, Kiss suggested monitoring their behavior while playing to see if there are changes, such as violent play or being standoffish.
For those older kids, she recommends monitoring if they start to withdraw or feel more anxious.