Talking about BIG things with little kids

Another deviation from writing for fun but very necessary things. Some of this is copied and pasted from my school social work blog (you’ll probably pick up on that vibe).

Big things are going on. Big things that are terrifying and overwhelming. As adults, when we can’t wrap our minds around them, how can we be expected to talk about them with little kids?

But the thing is, little kids notice. They notice when the grown ups they love are distracted or scared or worried.

So… now what? 

Try to avoid having the news on around young children right now. Not because they should be hidden from the information but because you know your child best and it can be very helpful for you to be able to regulate the type of information they receive and the rate at which they receive it. That way you can support them as they figure everything out.

Based on your child’s age, exposure, and developmental level, decide how deeply you want conversations to go. 

Use books and shows created specifically for young children. Today’s Parent has a list of picture books here. Even though the library is still closed, many book read-alouds are currently available on YouTube and author sites as a result of the pandemic. Preview the book before you read it with your child so you can anticipate questions they (or you) might have.  

Maybe sure you have another adult you can talk to about your own feelings and thoughts. That way, when you talk with your child, you can follow their lead. 

If you want to talk to your child about protests and racism or if they are asking questions about the protests and you aren’t sure where to start, read this article for tips from pediatricians and other child health experts

You might need some space to sort through everything. Take that space (even if it’s only available after they are in bed). Listen, engage, and do your best to model the conversations and morals you want to see in your children as they grow and begin to shape the world around them. Check out resources for yourself too. There are so many wonderful ones in this google doc about engaging in anti-racist conversations.

Sometimes raising human beings feels like a much bigger and more important job than other times. This is one of those crucial times. Let’s show them we can do and be better. 

Published by Nicole Loos Miller

Mama, LCSW, member of SCBWI and 12x12. Sometimes I laugh at my own jokes and I never get enough sleep. Also, I think you are great.

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