How to talk to kids about attack on US Capitol

If you have a child, chances are you probably thought about how their teachers would address Wednesday’s events.

"A lot of teachers we spent all day and into the night discussing how we were going to handle this today," said Derrick Jennings, who teaches seventh and eighth grade history in Federal Way.  

As a father and teacher, Jennings says he’s focused on asking the kids what did you see? How did that make you feel? And focusing heavily on making sure the kids understand the factual information behind the events, instead of just the emotions of it all."

He’s also helping his students who have different opinions learn to have civil discussions.

"We talked about listening for understanding, not listening to argue but listening to try to really understand where the other person is coming from."

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Another big aspect is finding the balance between educating your children about the events, while staying mindful of the fear and anxiety it may bring them.

Congresswoman Kim Schrier has a particularly interesting take on addressing what happened with kids seeing as she, too, is a mother and a pediatrician who was in the Capitol when it was stormed.

As a mother, Dr. Schrier had the advantage of getting to explain what was happening to her 12-year-old son before he saw it on the news.

"I was able to say, 'Look I need to stay in this office all day because some bad people got into the Capitol and the police are here to make sure we're all safe, but that means I need to stay in this office all day.' That’s much easier for a child to handle than walking into a room and seeing this all play out on TV, which is overwhelming for adults not to mention children."

As a pediatrician, she says making the decision to tell your child about what happened should largely depend on their age, maturity level, and temperament.

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"Pull back the curtain just enough so that they know enough information but not enough to overwhelm them."

She suggests being mindful of the anxiety the information could cause, and address it.

"Give them comfort that sometimes bad things do happen and you can  worry, but then there's a solution, because I think when kids see their parents worry and then handle that worry it gives them confidence that they can worry and handle it as well."

Dr. Schrier says yesterday’s events can be a teaching moment for kids for so many things-including misinformation, violence, and how to upsetting images. She says when deciding what you’d like to say to your children about it, keep their age and anxiety level in mind and let that factor into what you share.