Parental guidance: Discussing violence and its effects with kids

Whether it is from the papers, magazines, television, radio or even social networking sites, we feel overwhelmed with the amount of bad news hitting us nowadays — the escalating violence across the world, the helplessness of innocent bystanders or the washed up bodies of drowned refugee children.

It makes one question whether the bad news itself has multiplied or if it is the faster transfer of news that is the cause. Social networking sites have created opinionators out of us all — which can at times be prejudiced and intolerant — leading to more conflicts and verbal onslaughts.

As adults we have a stronger shell that helps us to not allow this barrage of negativity to percolate into our core. However, children are mostly not able to make sense of this mindless violence and would look to you for answers and explanations.

Now is the time to reassure them and revisit family values, because providing your children a stable and centered family life will help them anchor themselves in love, peace and harmony in a world gripped with violence, intolerance and hatred. Discuss with the children ways in which they can express themselves and their emotions, and how as a family you can put aside an hour each week to listen to the frustrations or complaints of other members, so that everyone feels heard. Positive reactivity on your part and knowing that they will be supported and understood, can encourage children to express their fears and failures more easily.

If your children are older, seek their active participation in discussions on what is happening around the world and what could be the possible causes for perpetrators to make the choices they did. Ask their opinion on violence and brainstorm ways in which they can practise and inculcate good values in daily lives.

Open communication is the key to strong and sustainable relationships.

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