Addressing the Violence at the U.S. Capitol With Your Kids: 5 Conversation Starting Points for Parents by Dr. Bethany Cook Clinical Psychologist
Most of us are still in shock from what has transpired at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. As a parent, you need to really be able to communicate that this was not OK, along with the background of why.
I didn’t expose my 5-year-old and 7-year-old with the news or with what was going on right away. This is because parents are human and we first need to process our own feelings and response first before talking to our children to minimize unneeded stress/worry. Once you have processed your feelings, it’s so important to discuss the recent events with them. Here are some starting points and topics that can be discussed with your kids:
- Tell them your belief and prospective and why. I believe what happened at the Capitol building is indeed an act of terrorism and an attempt to disrupt our nation's democracy and deny the people's vote to be heard.
- Let your children know they are safe. It’s important to explain to your children why some people use violence toward others. Individuals who use violence and vandalism toward others and society are exhibiting toxic and harmful coping skills for dealing with the cards life has dealt them and they feel entitled to something more.
- Share with your child about times when violence may be appropriate, and really that may only be to use as protection, if someone is attacking you or your family, not necessarily violence but defense. What you perceive as “dangerous” may not be the same for the next person and this is where things get muddy. Given that, it's important to be clear with your children about what is and isn’t acceptable social behavior such as basic manners and respect for other lives. If someone hits them can they hit back regardless? What if the person is smaller or mentally challenged?
- Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. The internet is a wonderful and powerful tool which gives us access to a lot of information. One problem is that because there is so much information it’s hard to identify what’s “truth” vs. “myth/outright lie.” Several reputable sources are available to fact check events.
- Having differences is OK. Differences in opinions (red is better than blue) is totally fine and makes people and life interesting. What is harmful is when someone goes to extremes and believes that everyone should like red the best and anyone who doesn’t is stupid and should be treated with less respect and dignity. Moderation, compromise, collaboration and respect is the key.
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