Answering Your Child’s Questions

written by Dr. Liz Nissim-Matheis, posted on Psychology Today

Children and teenagers are curious creatures. They also hear and see things that they don’t always understand. They pick up on the emotions around them and can feel overwhelmed or confused. The natural next step is for a child or teen to approach his or her parent.

As parents, sometimes we feel the need to tell our child or teen everything we know on a particular topic as a way of giving background. However, what we may not realize is that when our children ask us a question, they often are seeking a simple answer, and that’s it.

Depending on your child’s age and disability, as parents, we make tough decisions about sharing information about current events such as natural disasters or school shootings. Sadly, that is the world we live in, and with social media and access to the internet, our children are more informed today than we ever were when we were their age. In that sense, our world is a scarier place for our children today. Pre-internet, our generation found out about current events through our teachers, parents, or other family members.

What Should I Tell My Child When There Is a Natural Disaster or School Shooting?

When your child approaches you, first, get a sense of why he is interested in the topic now. For example, if they ask you, “Mommy, what happened in XXX (insert topic of interest here)?” Start with “What did you hear about that? Where did you hear about it?” First, try to gain an understanding of where this information came from, and then ask your child to tell you what he knows about it.