CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As information continues to make its rounds about the deadly riots that occurred at the capitol, doctors say kids of all ages have probably seen what happened and are looking to adults for guidance.
Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center Dr. Carole Swiecicki says opening the door for discussion with children about what they may have seen or already know is a good place to start the conversation.
“It gives you an opportunity to tell what their questions are or fears are on their individual level,” Swiecicki said.
When it comes to talking about the riots, she says it’s also important to correct any misinformation kids may have.
“If you ask a six-year-old what do you know about what happened they might say something like there was a lot of fighting,” Swiecicki said. “So that gives you as a parent more opportunity to say what was going on in terms of citizens and protests and this is about people disagreeing in our country.”
Swiecicki says to encourage children and teens to ask questions about what happened and parents should answer them directly.
Because kids feed off of the emotions and reactions of their parents, it’s important to be a sense of calm for them to talk to.
“Times like this can make adults feel unsafe and if we are feeling unsafe we need to make sure children understand our job is to keep them safe and that, by and large, people are safe even when unsafe things happen. If a child already knows you were able to handle hard conversations they are more likely to talk to you if there is a bully are interpersonal violence going on,” Swiecicki said.
In the same, Swiecicki says it’s also important to limit adult conversations as well as exposure to television.
“The more kids are exposed to it the more likely they are to have anxiety and depression around it so you want to limit exposure to topics and information for grown-ups to have that conversation and really developmentally appropriate level and in smaller pieces,” Swiecicki said.
Swiecicki says if a parent is noticing their child is withdrawing, struggling to talk about their feelings or is always down it’s time to reach out to a counselor to get them help.