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Talking to your kids about the U.S. Capitol riots

Experts say it can be a difficult conversation but it’s best to be honest with your children and offer to answer their questions.
Reaction to Siege on U.S. U.S. Capitol
Reaction to Siege on U.S. U.S. Capitol
Published: Jan. 8, 2021 at 10:35 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Parents across the country are facing a new challenge of explaining to their children what happened at the nation’s capitol on Wednesday.

Madison 8th grader, Remy Grill says he saw the events unfold online before his parents did. He says the images and the violence made him angry to see.

“It was really bad. They shouldn’t be doing those things,” he said.

The chaos at the U.S. Capitol can an uncomfortable topic to explain to a child. Remy’s parents say they don’t shelter their kids from the tough talks.

“Generally, we keep them in the loop when it comes to politics and voting. We’re very open with them,” said Aaron Grill.

Megan Grill says it’s important to have these conversations with their kids now so they develop the skills to process news like this and they can all work through it as a family. She says it’s also important to be there to answer questions and clarify any misunderstanding or misinformation.

“Our daughter Margot actually noticed the similarity between the capitol in D.C. and the capitol in Madison and was a little concerned that there were riots here in Madison,” said Grill.

She was able to reassure her daughter that what was happening was in Washington.

Professor Travis Wright, counseling and psychology expert encourages parents to start the conversation and do so with honesty.

“Because of all the chaos that’s happening in the world, many of us are having our own strong feelings and our kids are looking at us for how we’re responding,’ said Prof. Wright.

He says the key is to focus on responding versus reacting by following your child’s lead.

He also says with social media in the mix, it can be hard to know what your kids have seen or heard so the best strategy to begin the tough talks is to just ask them what they know.

“And if you don’t have the answers, tell them you don’t know,” he said. Politics, government, and racial equity are not topics to be covered in just one conversation.

Prof. Wright says keep an open dialog in your household.

He also says kids under age six may be too young to process what’s happening so it’s best to keep them away from the TV and newspapers for now.

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