Breaking the News How to talk to your child about unsettling real world events

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Every time I turn on the TV, it feels like I’m instantly bombarded with bad news, ranging from war in the Middle East to deadly tornadoes in the Midwest. So when it comes time for my daughter to watch, I choose kid-friendly stations only— ones that never even show a preview of the nightly news. At 3 years old, my little girl is far too young to be exposed to the tragedies of the world. Still, I wonder, at what age should I clue her in to some of the harsh realities around us—and what should I say to her?

Many parents wonder the same thing, especially considering that the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks is upon us. For guidance, we turned to Paul Coleman, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and author of How to Say It to Your Child When Bad Things Happen. Dr. Coleman strongly emphasizes that a parent’s most important job is making sure a child feels safe and protected when trouble arises. Here, he tells us how and when to broach this kind of subject.

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