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OSF Psychologist explains how to Communicate with children during current events

Written by on October 31, 2023

Photo provided by Dr. Kyle Boerke

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – With modern technology, it is easier than ever to access information about national and global events. As children are increasingly learning about historic events, a local psychologist believes parents have a responsibility to teach their children about it before the internet does. 

Doctor of Psychology at OSF Kyle Boerke noted that when talking to children about current events, if they do not hear it from their parent, they will always hear it from someone or something else. Whether that is from another child, exposure through social media or other adults. 

Dr. Boerke wants children to hear information from as safe a source as possible and says parents are strongly encouraged to have conversations they might not think necessary.

When big events in the world or the U.S. occur, parents need to have conversations with their kids, so they know they are getting accurate information. Children might inadvertently receive information from less reputable channels, which could lead to misinformation.

Dr. Boerke says limited exposure to television news, social media and radio is helpful as there are different opinions and information everywhere. Parents should do more listening than talking and follow the child’s lead at the age-appropriate level that they are at.

“The conversation really should be about the child. Give them permission to express their feelings. Make sure that they understand it’s important for them to be expressing their opinions, their viewpoints, and their feelings,” says Dr. Boerke. 

According to Dr. Boerke, parents model the exposure and behaviors that we want children to have especially in times of conflict. The central role of parents in establishing a secure and supportive conversation for their children is to engage in discussions and process current events.

This approach not only facilitates the child’s comprehension and emotional well-being but also instills the values of responsible information consumption and empathetic consideration of worldly issues.

Dr. Boerke says, “We want to make sure that they are hearing from us as the parent that we care about what they think. We care about what they are feeling.”