As much as you might try to shelter your children from the unrest happening in South Africa at the moment, it’s likely that they will see, stream or share some difficult imagery. Even if they haven’t directly come across it on social media accounts, or had conversations with friends, they are seeing adult distress in the faces of those they love. It’s not easy to have that conversation with your child, but it’s necessary.
Here’s how to talk to your children about what’s going on in our country right now:
- Think of the country as a school setting.
It’s never helpful to badmouth your child’s principal in front of him or her.
- Don’t avoid the hard stuff.
Don’t dismiss their feelings even if they overwhelm you. Validate their feelings and let them know it’s okay to feel rage, frustration, confusion and fear. Just sit with it. Don’t correct them. Don’t agree… just be with them in the moment.
- When watching the news, don’t launch into off-the-cuff, aggressive statements that you will later regret.
If we mirror the aggression we are seeing, our children’s anxieties are pronounced.
- Avoid the drama or keep it in the adult arena.
If you are the parent who thinks the pool should be drained to keep tinned food, do it. But keep the sentiment in the adult arena.
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- Speak TO teens, not AT them.
And go in light (even though the subject is heavy). Try saying something like, ‘Have you seen anything online about the riots and protests? What do you think is happening? What about it is upsetting?’
- Do the things that make your family feel tight or connected.
- Find the gold.
When things go wrong out there, these stand out as golden moments to impart your own values as a family. We can help our kids build empathy for causes not chaos, and discern long-standing issues from destructive behaviours, rather than focusing only on the fears.
How do you think those people were feeling?
What do you think pushed them to this place?
Do you think you could ever be pushed to behave in this way?
Do you know why they were angry?
What do you do when you feel like something is unfair?
- Remember, we are not unique even if it feels that way right now.
Remember America had protests in upmarket streets of LA just a few months ago, so did Italy, and England (over football!).
- If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.
Remind yourself and your family that the protests are time-based. The protests will end. Who we are in these moments and how we show up is what counts.
This article originated on www.klikd.co.za – click HERE to read it.