Talking to Kids About Scary Current Events

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The events of recent weeks have been chaotic and upsetting for all of us. Families are now facing the difficult task of helping children – of various ages and with varying levels of understanding regarding how government works in the first place – understand what’s going on at our nation’s Capitol.

To help, we’ve compiled some resources that can give families guidance on talking about current events with children of varying ages. Every child will react differently to this historically tumultuous time, so take a look through some of these materials and pick and choose what you think will best help your family cope.

And as always, if you bump into any issues where you could use additional or more specific resources, please be in touch. You can call us Monday through Friday between 9:30am and 5:30pm, and you can email us anytime at [email protected].


For Families with Children of All Ages

Greater Good Magazine: Nine Tips for Talking to Kids About Trauma

Originally published after the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, this guide provides nine steps to talk to your kids about scary events and is loaded with links to additional resources.


Modern Civics Project: Creating Civic Spaces in Troubling Times

A teacher wrote this thoughtful essay after the 2019 shooting in Parkland, Florida. Its theme of engaging children in discussions on their grief and fears is broadly applicable, and a few additional resources are provided.


National Association of School Psychologists: Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Educators

This infographic provides a few guidelines for talking about any difficult or scary topics.


NPR: How To Talk To Kids About The Riots At The U.S. Capitol

A relatively brief article interviewing teachers of both very young and older kids about how they recommend addressing what’s happened.


Teaching Tolerance: When Bad Things Are Happening

This resource gives tips for talking about any bad things of any kind, and provides a really nice framework for doing so.


For Families with Younger Children

PBS for Parents: Helping Kids Navigate Scary News Stories

Useful basics for breaking down news stories and meeting young children where they already are in their understanding of scary topics.


Ramblin’ with Red Yarn

Children’s musician Andy Furgeson (aka Red Yarn) discussed the riots during one of his recurring live-streamed music programs. It’s relatively long, but he specifically talks about the events of January 6 starting at about minute 4:00 to minute 10:00 in this video. (The rest of the video is also fun, with music, puppets, and more kid-friendly entertainment.)


For Families with Older Children

Anti-Defamation League: Let’s Talk About Voting!

A resource explaining how voting works and a brief history of voting rights, followed by discussion questions and additional resources, geared toward ages 10 and up. It doesn’t cover post-election events, but gives some good background information regarding elections in general.


NPR NewsHour: How to engage students in civil discourse following events at the U.S. Capitol

This resource has suggestions for helping children take action by engaging with their representatives. 


Facing History and Ourselves: Responding to the Insurrection at the US Capitol

While this resource is very clearly aimed at teachers creating lesson plans for their students, parents can definitely benefit from some of these ideas.


Additionally, here’s a handful of books that are available either to request and pick up at the library or to download and read virtually.

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