How did you respond last week to the riots at the Capitol? How’d you talk to your kids about it? After the dismay and anxiety moved on for me, the first thing I did was to find my people
to feel safe by fitting in: there’s a sort of belonging that happens when we agree on what we like or dislike, what we believe in or what we don’t. Three of my four teen/young adults are home which was helpful since we generally agree, so we were busily being self-righteous.
Then I found myself yapping on about consequences and taking responsibility for one's actions. It’s a big theme in our house even when there haven’t been riots! Somehow there’s safety and reassurance in returning to the familiar.
But then I caught myself. I usually enjoy the challenge of finding the opportunity in difficult situations, particularly with kids, and this was really no different: how could I use the experience to connect and support while encouraging learning and resilience? With older kids, it feels easier: talk about news and information sources, what makes a good leader, the power of a leader, why do people want to belong to groups and movements, the commitment or the representatives to go back and finish the job.
I also ended up reading a bunch of articles on young people’s reactions to the events and this article was by far the best for its simplicity and value with practical tips on how to talk to all ages of children in the aftermath.
First and foremost, kids look to us for guidance so modeling behavior that is calm, rational, even curious is helpful. All of them need reassurance that they are safe. And as is often the case, there is a place for listening, understanding and validating what they are feeling but there is also plenty of space for teaching and discussion.
Have fun with it!
As always, I"m here for a quick consultation to support you.