Thursday, November 1, 2012

What our kids hear about the world & how they feel

Recently, as I was cruising through twitter, I stumbled upon the video of a 4-year-old little girl who was crying about the Presidential Election. Reactions to it are varied, but I found it to be precious, authentic and real because I live with a 4-year-old who listens intently to everything, is super curious, and feels deeply.  How many parents are wondering, just like me, whether they should tell their kids about major events or asking themselves, "Can they handle it?" 

I can't imagine what is was like for parents in 2001, trying to explain the terrorist attacks to their children. Our kids are smarter than we give them credit for, but their emotions are often a little more extreme or off balance. They feel more compassion, happiness, excitement, and sorrow. For example, I find that with my kids, they either feel too much or they don't feel enough compared to my own adult reactions. 

Thus, as Sandy was hitting the east coast, I had to determine how to approach it with my 6-and 4-year-olds. I decided to turn the TV on at dinner so that we, as a family, could watch what was happening to our friends on the east coast and to a city we've spend so much time in.  I lived in NYC for 8 years and our family has spent months at a time in the city. The coverage captivated Spider for quite awhile and he listen intently to our conversation, then he said "Can we turn this off, it's scaring me!" So I asked him why he was scared, and basically he was convinced Sandy was coming to Park City.  Once I assured him that Sandy was not coming to, as he calls it "our town in America", he became more curios. He was listening to the reports as we started cleaning up, and later announced to the family that "Sandy was heading to Canada."  He talked about Sandy at school and corrected his friends, who were convinced Sandy was a person, by telling them it was a hurricane that turned into a cyclone. 

His absorption of the situation was amazing. I am consistently in awe of the way kids handle information with such a pure level of intrigue and interest. It warms my heart that they have the desire to learn, and breaks my heart when they feel so much emotion when trying to digest the information.

So as events occur within our world, from presidential elections to natural disasters, think about how you share it with your children. They are more acutely aware of what's happening in their surroundings than we give them credit for.

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