The images of people dancing in the streets juxtaposed with a photograph of a grimacing man are raising plenty of questions among tots of all ages. Try as a mama might to shield her child from the horrors of the world, it's hard to avoid one of the biggest stories of the past decade this week. When your lil one asks you who Osama bin Laden was and why American forces killed him, how do you answer them?
This morning, The Today Show brought in a psychiatrist and a developmental specialist to provide tips for discussing the news with children, and not a moment too soon — just last night my tot asked some of the very questions they brought up. Here are some of their suggestions for holding a conversation with your kids.
- With younger tots, under the age of 6, approach the subject in a good guy, bad guy, cops and robbers kind of situation.
- For older tots, over the age of 8, it's reasonable to have a significant conversation about the matter, but be sure to stick to the facts and see what questions they may have on their own.
- Take your cues from your child. If their behavior has changed (they're eating more or less, talking more or less, acting out more or less) approach them about the subject.
Keep reading to see the rest of the tips.
- Kids may be confused as to why he was killed rather than placed in jail. Help them to understand that while he was alive, people were scared and didn't know what he would do next. Explain that the people in charge of our safety in the US made the decision for all of us.
- If and when the photo is released, limit their exposure to the media, wait for them to come to you to discuss the image, and be available if they have questions or fears after they inevitably see it.
- Continue to remind children about being open-minded. Remind them, often, that all people who look like Osama bin Laden don't act like him.
How have you handled your tykes' questions over the past few days?