Broaching the Tough Stuff

On Friday night I was watching the News and, like so many in world, finding it difficult to understand how a commercial aircraft could be the target of a missile attack. Not to mention the why. Why that plane? Why those lives? Why then? Why…at all? These are difficult, perhaps unanswerable, questions for an adult so imagine how much more difficult it is for a child to understand. A child like my four year old son who had got out of bed and come to find me.

He honed in on the TV. The vivid graphics of twisted metal. And he was curious. What show was this and what were they doing and why were they doing it? I explained that some not-very-nice people had shot at a plane and it had crashed.

He explained to me that, that was dangerous. People could get a scratch.

And I said yes, lots of people on the plane had been very badly scratched and it was a terrible thing for anyone to do. And then I changed the channel.

The thing is, I had been completely unprepared to explain these things to my pre-schooler. The best I could do was simplify and follow his lead. Because I don’t want to lie to my children, I think that does them a disservice, but I don’t want to traumatise them either or rob them of the innocent way in which they perceive the world.

Confronting difficult issues with your children can be so daunting. From a family pet dying to something terrible they see on the TV, these things come up for us all. I’m still not sure I handled it as well as I could have and I’m curious, how do you broach the tough stuff with your little people?

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