Explaining scary news to kids is something parents can avoid altogether. Whether the topic is a pandemic or a protest, your toddler or preschooler doesn’t need to know today’s news. Why? You’ll scare them!
Our youngest students at La Jolla Montessori School are not abstract learners. If a three to six year-old sees a building on fire via a TV headline, they might think it’s next door! That’s because they cannot put events in context. So, we parents need to limit their exposure.
Let’s say your preschooler hears about COVID-19 on TV and while at school asks the teacher, “What is it?” Our answer will be: That’s a great question to ask your parents. Then, a recommended option for you to answer the question would be to discuss the value of good hygiene rather than saying 100,000 people have died of a virus.
Scaring children or having them be fearful of the world is never an option…we want them to be and feel safe. So, if they ask us why they should look both ways for cars before crossing the street, we gently tell them ‘safety’ because sometimes cars are just not looking out for them.
Now, if an elementary school child asks questions about the virus, then we may respond or present facts without over-explaining. But, for toddlers and preschool children who may be scared when we conduct a fire or earthquake drill, our job is to protect them and alleviate their stress so we discuss why it’s important to practice our drill in case of an emergency.
Children feed off an adult’s facial moods. Since they are often prescient, they may ask you what’s wrong. If that happens, excuse yourself and take time to process your own emotions. Then, when you’re ready, just say, “Something bad happened and I feel bad about it. But we’re okay.” In that way, children don’t feel badly themselves.
‘Self-care’ is a new parental tool that means ‘take the time to take care of yourself before taking care of your children.’ We may struggle with this concept at first but it diffuses hard news. Essentially, parents, take a walk, call a friend, talk with your spouse–but give yourself alone time. And, turn off external media that may bleed into their world.
Rather than explaining scary news to kids, one key for parents is to keep scary news out of their kid’s world. And, if something bad happens, then simply say there’s a plan in place to fix it, that they are protected and things will be okay. That’s how we ensure students’ peace of mind at our Montessori school.
For a tour of our La Jolla Montessori school, a bilingual preschool ages 18 months to Kindergarten also offering Day Care in La Jolla, by visiting our Tour page: https://lajollamontessorischool.com/book-a-tour/.