Breaking the News to a child

Last week, I was interviewed by a journalist for the Telegraph who wanted to know how I explained and answered difficult questions about current affairs to Boy1.

Its a really interesting issue because I’ve always wanted to make sure I don’t overprotect my children from the big wide world. In fact its my responsibility as a parent to teach them about ‘real life‘, but at the same time, I have to filter and edit to a level that’s comfortable for them, and me (to be totally honest).

We have the news on every morning, as I always tell him its important to know what is going on in the world around us, but I guess that world has always seemed quite distant from him and nothing to worry about.

So when, out of the blue, Boy 1 asked me about the Westminster attacks a few weeks ago (just before I headed to London), it took me by surprise. I had to try my best not to use the word ‘terrorism’ as I knew this might scare him even more. Instead I described this very angry man that wanted express his anger and unfortunately some people died because of him. But with any ‘deep’ conversation I have with him, I try to end on the positive, so explained that the police were on the case, keeping us all safe. Because, for a child, that’s the most important thing. They need to have confidence and optimism and it’s our job to maintain that view for them. 

When he asked my why Donald Trump had won the election if he’s such a mean man, that says horrible things about women and Mexicans, I had to explain that sometimes not everyone agrees with each other. That’s how democracy works.

I’ve found that in these situations its beneficial to put things in a context a child can related too, without over-simplifying the situation.Whether that’s through the importance of talking and compromising or helping those in need, it helps to put their mind at ease.

Through the interview I realised that whilst I try to be honest, I will still try to change the conversation in certain situations. Seeing injured bodies of innocent children that could the same age as his brother, or hearing about young people being attacked by their family members – he doesn’t need to hear that, not just yet.

But in a world of hyperbole and click-bait driven content, where youngsters have easy access to media, the challenge for us as parents is to ensure they are enlightened, not exposed. Educated, not excluded from the world they live in. We use this an opportunity to build strong citizens of the world.

Then, as in most cases, after about 5 minutes they’ll turn to you and ask ‘what’s for dinner?’.

X

PS – if you are really struggling for words to explain the news, I’d highly recommend a subscription to The Week Junior. Boy 1 loves it!

 

I love books but World Book Day?! 

It’s the first Thursday in March, the day most parents dread, but most school children enjoy. Yes, it’s World Book Day.
I really try to encourage reading in our house. I’ve done bed time reading since the boys were tiny babies, and now that he’s confidently reading ‘chapter books’, Boy1 still enjoys reading for hours. In fact I often find myself telling him not to read after discovering he’s still at it 2 hours after he went to bed.

Given this growing squad of booklovers, you’d think I was a fan of World Book Day. In some regards you’d be correct. I’m a real fan of reading and the benefits it can bring. I love the idea of celebrating the joy of literacy. And the fact that every child in the country gets a £1 voucher is amazing. Especially because there are special £1 books for the event, meaning those on limited budgets can still get a new book. Fantastic!

But it seems as though over the years some schools (and let’s be honest, some parents) have let the literacy side of the scheme fall by the wayside. It has somehow become a fancy dress parade.

Some children aren’t even dressed as book characters, unless Spider-Man and Elsa were in Hans Christian Anderson’s earlier, Unknown work.

Parents stressing over what to dress their child in because they are a) unhealthily competitive b) rubbish at crafts or c) not a fan of fancy dress, is just not necessary. The only real need is for them to contribute to the flurry of (extremely cute) photos on Facebook.

Boy 1 is certainly in the latter camp. For three years running we’ve had to rummage through his clothes to create some kind of outfit that slightly resembles that of a character he likes. We’ve shoved a Wocket in his Pocket (thanks Dr Seuss) and pulled out a Thing 1 tshirt.

his Wocket, happily sitting in his pocket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But whilst I would find it easier if my son enjoyed wearing silly costumes, I’d still want to focus on books.

Why not just encourage children to bring in their favourite book? Maybe even do a story swap so their fellow pupils can get to enjoy a new story. Figures show that children are reading less and less these days and this is our annual opportunity to capture their imaginations and encourage reading. Please please let’s not waste it.

I’m now off to pour away our Marvellous Medicine!