5 keys to explain violence in the world to children

The violent images, of wars, of conflicts and terrorism that children see on television, in the newspaper, the comments they hear from us, at school and in the street, generate in the children hopelessness, insecurity and also increase aggressive impulses, in response to the tension and uncertainty.

Today, the images and news of the violence in the world, but leaves a residue, especially in children: fear. They fear, we fear, that it happens to us. So, how to explain to children that there is evil in the world?

The harsh reality of violence in the world

Between the ages of 8 and 12, children are at an age when they begin to reflect, to ask themselves questions, to value what is fair and unjust, and we, the parents, have to accompany them in that reflection and in that formation. , help them to have a critical spirit. They are in an evolutionary period in which they distinguish and separate reality from fantasy.


For this reason, this process of "opening up to the crudest reality in the world" must be carried out with adequate, educational information and without pessimistic or overwhelming harshness. Anguish has a negative side that leads to despair, but it has a positive side, which makes us start and get out of ourselves. That is our hope. You can understand no less than what you need.

How to explain to children about violence and wars in the world

When asked by children about the violence in the world, why wars and armed confrontations, attacks ... knowing how parents should react is essential to avoid feeding their fear.


1. Tell the truth: children should not be hidden what is happening in the world, we should not deceive them by telling them that wars, conflicts, violence and terrorism do not exist. They search their parents for an explanation of what they see, they listen in the street, among their classmates. We also have to expose them to the reality of life, of the world. To avoid telling them that tragedies exist, is not good for them. We will be hiding reality. A) Yes, we must explain things to them in the way they understand them without causing them anguish. You always have to get ahead and explain what happened to the other side.

2. With love and without crudity: a child's mind is still sensitive, innocent. Therefore, look for real answers, but not fleshed, cold, or tragic, or negative. Always long for hope and optimism. That is how we must explain things to them, calmly and without dramatisms, although sometimes we see the reality very black. Phrases like "this world has no solution, we are not safe anywhere", will not help our children, still vulnerable, who seek refuge and stability in us. The way we face the problem will influence them completely.


3. Without too many images: to explain the reality, it is not necessary that they have to observe explicitly on television or in the newspaper the wars, the dead, the pain ... In any case, we must also get to know our children. It is not the same that you see the images of "children-soldier" with 7 years, that with 12. You also have to know his character, how he is impressed and how it affects him. In any case, the specialists point out that it is always better to explain to them the events, the acts of terrorism than to see those facts on television. And in addition, the current news, so sensational, are not the best way to explain to our children of these ages the violence in the world. As of 10 years old, we will observe our son if he is prepared to watch a newscast in which several children have been killed by a terrorist act.

4. Without causing them frustration or hatred: we can not explain to our children that there are horrible people who put bombs without scruples. We will cause them terror and insecurity. Evil exists and there are people who do bad things, who are sick, but there are many more good people who do not want to hurt others. For this reason, expressing pessimistic and discriminatory opinions about other countries, immigrants, other people, etc., has a negative impact on children. They produce feelings of hopelessness, increase fear, encourage violence and prevent children from imagining constructive solutions and trusting in their country.

5. Letting you ask: let him take out of his mind everything that terrifies him, everything that worries him or has caused him fear. Help him to reflect, to calm down and to ask himself about evil and for good. If you observe that your behavior is more aggressive, you may react like this because of fear of the situation and it will be best to talk with him about what he feels and thinks.

Gisela Zapata. Psychotherapist.
Advice: Carlos Goñi Y Pilar Guembe, teacher and pedagogue, and authors of the book It's easy to be a parent!

More information in the book Freedom and tolerance in a plural society. The art of living. Author Alfonso Aguiló.

Video: What is the most important influence on child development | Tom Weisner | TEDxUCLA


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