Tuesday, 20 January 2015

What do we tell the children?

I kept mine out of the Charlie loop as much as possible. I did it because at 6 and very-nearly 3, they were just too young. Also, I did it because I could. I could avoid dreary images on the telly by not turning it on. I didn't have to hide the front cover of a newspaper as we don't buy one. I just spent a few days frantically checking news websites for more updates, more info, more analysis. More guidance, perhaps.
But for those of you who feel they must explain the events to the children in their lives and don't know how, here are a few links that might help.

Here is how some Parisian parents dealt with it (article in English, on mashable.com)

French-speaking parents have the option of downloading for free the special editions produced by the teams behind a series of newspapers aimed at children from the age of 6 onwards (pictured). With clear text and infographics, these give a lot of background information that is key to understanding the events in context. They also provide a lot of testimonials from children themselves about how they felt in the aftermath of the attacks and of the march.

You can find out more about these special editions here (in English). This article also features a handy check-list on "How to talk about it" which I reproduce here:

Based on his 20 years of providing news to youth of all ages in France, Play Bac chief editor Fran├žois Dufour offers six tips for discussing tough news events with children :

1. First, make sure the child really wants to to talk about it at all!
2. If the child wants to talk about it, begin with the questions they have : encourage them to talk, taking all the time they need to ask their own questions.
3. Adapt your speaking: Keep your answers simple, understandable and intelligible.
4. If you need to use difficult words (terrorist, Islamist ...), explain them. If necessary, check in the dictionary together
5. Explain the difference between events (facts) and opinons: children often confuse the two.
6. In some ways, there is no difference by age groups: The reality is the same for all. If reality is shocking, it is normal for your child to be shocked. Like you!
7.  That said, parents must adapt to the issues of children according to their ages,  giving more detail to the oldest and more explanation of words to the youngest. The younger the child is, the more you have to offer ‘small talk,’ making even shorter sentences and even simpler words. Give even more attention to vocabulary. For example, while the the words "Republican values" may be understandable to a 16-year-old, they will need explaining to an eight-year-old.”

Finally, here's how they did it elsewhere in Europe and further afield.

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