Talking to Children About Events in the News

March 12, 2019

Bianca Blanchette, Safe Environment Coordinator, Diocese of Fresno
As presented in the Lent 2019 edition of Central California Catholic Life

Our children are exposed to headlines every day, whether on the TV or in the classroom. It’s important for parents and caregivers to know the questions to ask to help children interpret current events. Here are some tips that can help guide the conversation…

Tip One: Ask open-ended questions to discover children’s knowledge about the event, and any opinions that may have already been formed. This will determine the depth of the child’s knowledge on the subject. It will also give you an opportunity to clear up any misinformation or gaps in understanding.

Tip Two: Let children lead the discussion. Listen more than you talk and let them know you value their beliefs and opinions. Ask follow-up questions (And then?) to keep the conversation going. This promotes mutual learning and creates an open dialogue that can continue in the future. One or two questions may be all you need for a meaningful conversation to occur.

Tip Three: Keep your tone light and conversational to ensure children feel safe to open up. If your child shares more information than you expected, remain calm during the conversation.
Some examples of questions to ask are… What have you heard about this incident? How do you feel about the people hurt by the situation? How do you feel about the people that caused the incident to happen? Do you think this could have been prevented and if so, how? What would you do if you saw this incident happen? What would you do if someone made you uncomfortable or asked you to keep a secret? Do you know of anything like this happening at your school, or anywhere else? Is there anything else you would like to talk to me about?

As always, the goal of the Safe Environment office at the Diocese of Fresno is to keep children safe and protected. The Diocese of Fresno is committed to ensuring that when your child is in our care in parish programs or in Catholic Education that their safety is of utmost importance and priority. To know more about what your parish and school is doing and how you can be part of creating and maintaining a safe environment, contact the Diocese of Fresno Office of Safe Environment at 559-493-2882 or visit us online at dioceseoffresno.org.