Monday, January 18

Talking to children about Haiti and other tragedies

I agree with this commenter at a remembrance of Public Television's Mister Rogers:

My favorite memory of Mr. Rogers is the way he responded to children’s emotional needs during tragedies such as the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11. He advised parents and teachers to focus on showing kids the rescuers and other people who were demonstrating kindness and trying to save others. He wanted kids to understand that although bad things will sometimes happen, there are always people ready to help, ready to make the world right again. In short, he planted faith.

The Fred Rogers PDF on talking to children in times of disaster is still online. Highly recommended.

I've also had an opportunity this weekend to talk to my children about Martin Luther King, who was not a perfect person but who made a big difference in the history of our country. People tried to stop him and he was even killed for trying to change things, but he still worked hard to make a difference.

Having kids means you take things to their simple elements, which can be really helpful to all of us as adults, too.

Salon tonight, 9 Eastern at It's just typing chat, and it's often very fun. Hope to see you there. First timers are always warmly welcomed!


  1. My youngest "child" is 21 now.... and a political science major.... so he is an interesting one to talk with, as he has some very in depth info to share. I do remember as a young child, Kosovo was going on & he became physically effected by seeing war images on the news, and even seeing newspaper headlines. WE used to just throw the paper on the breakfast table & he would read some headline & feel like he could not stomach eating breakfast...ethnic cleansing did not sit well with him. It made me realize how insensitive us adults had become.
    People should not have news of atrocities served up with corn flakes.
    It was not just a matter of sheltering him from the news.... it was a matter of us realizing- as kids we grew up with atrocious scenes broadcast from Vietnam.... before they get into massive censorship... and although it always made me cringe.... having it come to your home, kind of made you cringe a little less, the more you were exposed to it.
    I never had the attitude that war was OK...
    but his tender young fresh perspective made me (now a news junkie) realize the need to understand these images were traumatic.
    We had to do some media filtering. If I had really young kids in the house, I think I would limit the visual exposure to the disaster, and encourage them to do what they can to help....
    maybe they want to donate a few bucks to a relief foundation themselves and know they are helping as well.
    What is gutwrenching was so many young college students had chosen to go to the poorest place in the Western hemisphere to help, and wound up in the disaster within the disaster. Some lost their lives, others lost limbs. But talk about selfless giving... to go to a place with abject poverty to help.

    Abject poverty is defined as living on less than 1 US dollar per day.

  2. At, the source for kid-friendly answers on how the world works, we’ve partnered with qualified experts for help in discussing some of the tougher topics with kids ages 4-8; here’s our advice and talking points for helping children talk about global disasters:


I really look forward to hearing what you have to say. I do moderate comments, but non-spam comments will take less than 24 hours to appear... Thanks!