I don’t know about you, but I didn’t sleep much last night. Processing what happened at the Capitol yesterday has been incredibly difficult for so many reasons.
Talking to my kids about it has been even harder.
But talking is important. I want my kids to know that they can talk to me about the hard stuff — even when I don’t have the answers.
And I definitely don’t have answers right now.
So, where do we start those incredibly difficult conversations?
Here are a few resources that I’ve found helpful. If you’ve found a resource, please share in the comments. I’ll continue to add to this list.
Resources for Talking to Your Kids About the Capitol Riots
Today Show: Age by Age Guide to Talking About the Capitol Riots
This guide gives practical advice for starting conversations with kids ages kindergarten through high school. Personally, I like this sage advice from Dr. Deborah Gilboa –who encourages parents to propel conversation into action with their children:
“Is there an opportunity for action? Yes,” Gilboa said. “There’s definitely an opportunity here to say. Who did you see yesterday behaving admirably? And who did you see yesterday behaving badly? Which legislators? Let’s tell them.”
Facing History and Ourselves
Facing History and Ourselves published a guide for teachers, but many of their ideas can be adapted for home conversation. In particular, the process of contracting might be a good way to start a conversation. Before delving into responses about what happened at the Capitol, talk to your kids about how you’ll have a conversation. Set up parameters. Create a space where your child will feel comfortable sharing their feelings and guidelines for responding to those feelings.
PBS: Classroom Resource
Again, this is another resource created for teachers but is particularly helpful if you’re trying to talk to your children about media literacy and racial inequality.
Like so many things in parenting, this is not a one-and-done conversation. Anxiety that your kids have felt during the pandemic is certain to be amplified. NPR’s LifeKit has advice for parents who are supporting kids that are anxious and scared.
There is a lot of power in listening — for both the listener and the person being listened to. Teaching Tolerance is sharing tips for how to structure listening and letting kids lead the conversation.
Washington Post Parenting
The biggest takeaway from this article (which is packed with a lot of advice): don’t hide. Talking about the scary issues directly can help give our kids agency and feel a little more in control.
Our Own Advice
Six years ago, we published advice for talking to kids about the Baltimore riots from Monica Wiedel-Lubinski. At the time, Monica was director of the Nature Preschool at Irvine Nature Center. Now, she is the director of the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools. Her advice is still timely.