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Resources for Talking to Your Children About the Attack on the U.S. Capitol

News stories coming out of Washington, D.C., and other parts of the country have filled the airwaves and will dominate the national conversation for the foreseeable future. Whether you’ve sheltered the children in your life from stories about the attack on the U.S. Capitol or not, it’s likely they could still hear about it. 

A few years ago, we shared some resources about how to have a post-election conversation with your children. We’ve assembled another list of resources to help guide you as you navigate these difficult conversations with the children in your life. 

Insights from museum staff

Susan Michal, Director of Early Childhood Education at The Children’s Museum, shared a few thoughts about discussing these events and other traumatic events with your children.

  • With young children, it is critical to keep calm and reassure them that they are safe.
  • Create an environment where you have time to listen to them.
  • Give them creative outlets—including art, role playing, dramatic play—to work out their feelings. These activities help children share feelings when they do not yet have the language to express their feelings.
  • Keep a routine and regular rhythm to your day to help your children know what to expect and to ensure a sense of security.
  • If your child is returning to a school building, discuss who your children have in their school lives that keep them safe and are there for them as needed—teachers, administrators, counselors, aides, counselors, friends, etc.
  • If your child has seen images on television, be sure to assure them that police, government employees, and elected members are working to keep us safe and to protect our democracy.
  • Brainstorm ways to take positive actions to help. This will give children a sense of control and encourage hope.
  • Keep conversations simple and developmentally appropriate. If your child is ready or wants more information, they will tell you. Follow their lead.
  • These ideas echo the tips shared in a recent article by the National Education Association—Talking to Kids About the Attack on the Capitol.

How to Disagree with People
by Kid President

Kid President offers some light-hearted, yet poignant tips about how to disagree with people without making them feel terrible. This is a great starting point for discussions about how we should react when people hurt our feelings or we don’t get our way.

Here are some key highlights:

  • Treat people like they’re people
  • Listen, listen, listen
  • Pause. Breathe. Love.
  • Acceptance

It’s important to remind children (and adults) that it’s OK to disagree. It’s not OK to be mean or to hurt others. And violence is not the answer.

Helping Children with Tragic Events in the News
from PBS Kids

Children are sensitive to how their parents feel. They pick up on parents’ subtle and not-so-subtle cues and can tell when you’re worried—especially during a crisis. As you would expect, PBS Kids provides some great insight into helping your child feel secure in the midst of community or world-wide crisis.

The Power of Children: Making a DifferenceⓇ
at The Children’s Museum

The Power of Children® exhibit tells the story of three—soon to be four—children who used their words, action, voice, and education to change the world around them. These blog posts, written for last year’s Year of Action, share their stories and provide ways you and your children can begin changing the world today.

We also assembled a reading list of children’s books that would be relevant as we pursue a kinder, safer, and more compassionate world.

Five Habits to Heal the Heart of Democracy
by Parker Palmer

Educator Parker Palmer reminds us of the importance of our country’s long standing tradition of a peaceful transfer of power. This article was written with teenagers in mind. These five habits include:

  • An understanding that we are all in this together
  • An appreciation for valuing our differences
  • An understanding that disagreements can be channeled productively
  • A sense of personal voice and ability to take action
  • A capacity to create community

Children can change the world

We believe in the power of children to help change the world. The Children’s Museum is a place where all children and families can learn from one another—regardless of our differences. The core of our mission at The Children’s Museum is to help transform the lives of children and families. We hope these resources can be a starting point. Let’s partner with our children and help to make the world a better place.