In an era of 24/7 news cycles and instant information access, children are exposed to news more than ever before. While it’s essential to keep them informed and help them understand the world around them, certain news topics, particularly those involving violence or distressing events, can be challenging for them to digest. Here’s a guide on how to talk to children about the news, offering them the understanding they need without causing undue anxiety.


Consider their Age

Age plays a significant role in how children understand and react to the news. Young children might struggle to distinguish between reality and fiction, while older children and teenagers are more capable of understanding complex issues. It’s crucial to tailor the conversation to your child’s developmental level. Keep explanations simple and concrete for younger children, while encouraging critical thinking and discussion with older ones.

Choose the Right Time

Choose a calm and quiet time for these discussions. This will allow your child to focus on the conversation and give them the space to ask questions or voice concerns.

Be Open and Honest

Children value honesty. While it’s important to shield them from graphic details, try to give accurate information about what’s happening. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to say so. Use this as an opportunity to explore the topic together and find reliable sources of information.

Filter Their News Sources

In the age of the internet, not all news sources are reliable or suitable for children. Guide your child towards age-appropriate news sources and teach them about media literacy. This can help them understand the difference between credible news and misinformation.

Encourage Questions

Make the conversation a two-way street by encouraging questions. This not only helps children understand the news better, but it also provides insight into their thoughts and concerns. Be patient and answer their questions as best you can, keeping in mind their age and maturity.

Provide Reassurance

News about natural disasters, violence, or global pandemics can make children feel scared or anxious. Reassure them by focusing on positive actions being taken, like people helping each other in a natural disaster. Remind them that many smart and dedicated individuals are working to resolve issues or help those in need.

Use the News as a Teaching Tool

News topics often provide good teaching moments. They can be used to instill values such as empathy, kindness, and justice. For instance, news about a natural disaster can lead to a conversation about helping others, while a story about a protest can spark a discussion about civil rights and social justice.

Monitor and Limit Exposure

While it’s crucial to keep children informed, constant exposure to distressing news can be overwhelming. Monitor their news intake and consider setting boundaries on news content during certain times, like close to bedtime, to prevent anxiety and help ensure they’re getting a break.

Talking to children about the news can be challenging, but it’s an important part of their growth and understanding of the world. By approaching these conversations with honesty, patience, and a focus on education and reassurance, you can turn the news from a source of anxiety into a tool for learning and engagement.

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Maria Libman

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Therapies Provided

Reality therapy, Dialectical behavior therapy. Transactional analysis.

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