To shield or not to shield young children from the news

Marisca talks the ups and downs of discussing world events with kids

With all the bad news going on in our world right now, how do we shield our young children from it? Or do we?

I was watching the news this morning and my four-year-old was asking me questions about it.

A clip of protestors being taken away by police during the dispute between Coastal GasLink and the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs flashed across the screen.

She wanted to know why the police were taking them away. I didn’t know how to respond. I want my daughter to be interested in the news but maybe just not yet.

She is only four. How do I even explain this issue? I turned off the TV and changed the subject.

Now I’m wondering if that was a mistake. Or maybe I should just read the morning news on my phone and catch up with the evening news after she goes to bed.

It is such a tricky situation. I want to her be worldly and I don’t want her to live in a bubble. Or do I?

I want to protect her and I want her to feel safe. At the same time, I want her to know what is happening outside in the world, form her own opinions and be compassionate.

Mr. Rogers once famously said he was always comforted by something his mother would tell him during times of disaster: “Look for the helpers. You can always find people who are helping.”

But who are the helpers in this dispute? Are they the protesters helping the hereditary chiefs fight for their land or is it the RCMP helping to uphold the injunction?

This is not a situation that can be easily simplified for a young child, or maybe even a grown adult.

I went down to the deep, dark hole that is the internet for answers. I didn’t find much that was helpful. According to shielding children from hard truths hurts rather than helps.

We should be teaching resilience and building character and not hiding hard reality from kids.

I understand this. But putting that into practise is another thing.

I’m beginning to think I’m overthinking this. I found a lot of interesting kid-friendly news websites and I think I will go to those sites when my daughter is interested in news or wants to know something.

I’m also pretty sure she’s forgotten about this morning’s news and is currently only concerned about what is for lunch.

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