How To Talk To Your Child About Protests
The topic of protests is at an all-time high. Not the actual protesting, but the Internet has content about all that goes on in the front line. Because of that, many children end up watching videos or reading articles about matters they might not understand yet. This can confuse the whole world, and honestly, we don’t want that for our children.
What Can a Child See Online About Protests?
This is the core of the problem. Once your child sees or reads about something that is too much for them, the damage has already been done. All you can do is lessen it unless you have this talk beforehand, of course.
So, what can they find?
Let’s go with the biggest current protest — the one in Hong Kong. The least concerning things are posters about freeing the country, which mainly consists of text. These aren’t harmful in any way, but they will lead your child to search for articles that talk about the matter more descriptively, which you don’t want.
These articles talk about everything that goes on, such as police brutality, injuries, and the vandalism the protesters do. These are all very violent, and if you allow your child to use the Internet by themselves, then they are at risk of reading about this. Don’t take this as a cue to take away their access to the Internet, of course, instead teach and protect them.
But the worst of it is the videos. People destroying poles around the city and walking around in gas masks aren’t that scary. They show what goes on, and these aren’t violent at all. But there are videos about police brutality.
In them, you can see people bleeding, getting shot, or being tackled to the ground, even in cases where they weren’t aggressive or violent. These videos are awful to watch even for adults, much more so for children. You don’t want them to see these kinds of things, but all you can do is talk to them about it.
“Mommy, What is a Protest?”
This is the best scenario that can happen. Your child might have seen a headline or a poster. Either way, they didn’t go further, instead went to you for help. Cherish that.
But when your child goes up to you and asks this out of nowhere, what can you say? Well, it depends on age.
Up until eight years old
For this discussion, it doesn’t matter if you let your child use the Internet at age 4 or 18. All we need to know is that they are too young to understand the matter entirely. They don’t know enough about the world yet to process such things.
But the answer is more straightforward than you would think. The most important thing you need to do is to clear up the fact that there are people who rule over us. Who make laws and decide what’s best for us. This opens up the conversations for many more things, but if you want to stick to the topic, then you need to continue with the fact that these rulers are sometimes wrong. Very wrong. And they don’t know what the citizens need.
The next phase is crucial. Tell your child that if this happens, then the people are allowed to resist and make sure that they are treated well. When these people gather up and resist together is what is called a protest.
Yes, this might end up with them suddenly rising and declaring that you should treat them better as well unless you want them protesting. This is a great time to teach them about certain values everyone has that we like to preserve that is worth fighting for.
9-14 years old
This goes for children above 14 as well, but we think that kids are generally exposed to such things by that time.
At this age, children already have a pretty good idea of how the government works. That there are people who decide for us, make laws, and some already know that these are the people taking away a certain percentage of everyone’s wage. If you explain protests to children this age, then you will be met with anger and confusion.
This is because you need to clear up two specific points: how the government treats people and that we can resist.
This way, you can explain the importance of freedom and the standard of treatment everyone deserves. Because of this talk, your child will be able to set realistic boundaries and speak up about unfairness. This will need some refining, of course, but generally, they will be able to figure it out in a short while.
Just make sure that this kind of resistance doesn’t pop up while your child is in school. It can cause very awkward moments.
What if Your Child Reads About Protests?
This is not all that bad, but it can certainly cause some problems. Your child might not even be able to talk to you about the matter, which is why you should discuss the topic before this happens.
If a child reads about such things, then they will either go up to you and tell you all about it, then ask for help. If your child is not that emotionally mature though, then they might end up trying to bottle up everything and dealing with it themselves. This is the tricky part, as many kids internalize these things, and if they don’t understand it, then they will see the world with general confusion.
And you likely can’t get them to open up. In most cases, children would rather not admit to having certain feelings about anything, which is why they would rather suffer in their mind even if there is help right in front of them. Unfortunately, though, this can happen with anything, not just protests, so you can’t pinpoint what is upsetting your child, which is why you need to talk to them beforehand.
But if you are one of the lucky ones, then your child will eventually open up. In this case, they will tell you about what they read, imagined, and assumed about the situation. You need to address these things. If your child made false assumptions, then you need to correct them, and if they didn’t think about some things, then you need to fill out the picture for them. Just don’t leave them confused at the end of a talk like this, that’s the worst you can do. Because then the only place they can go to is the Internet which is where the problem started to begin with.
Be sure to check out “5 Fun Things to do When You Are a Stay at Home Mom” for a list of activities you can take advantage of around the house to include your child in.
What If Your Child Sees a Video About a Protest?
This one depends on what is actually in the video.
A lot of these videos only contain short clips of people talking about their experience, why they started protesting in the first place. For example, if we look at Hong Kong, then we can find videos where people are explaining the current situation and how it affects them and their families. This is very personal and can make anyone worried for a stranger they have never even seen before, so it might have a pretty severe effect on your child. Although this way, they can learn about what is worth fighting for and that there are people who are willing to do what needs to be done so others can have a normal life as well. All in all, if your child sees a video like that, then you are good to go.
This opens up the conversation for many things, and your child can learn a lot of compassion and empathy. Just make sure you talk it through, because this will result in a lot of intense emotions that need to be dealt with.
There are a lot of protesters who show their resistance by destroying government property. It’s not all that bad, but let me paint the picture for you:
The camera is wobbly; whoever is filming is nervous or even scared. They show a lot of people in gas masks who are continuously shouting and yelling. They tear down a pole that had surveillance cameras on it while shouting for freedom.
As adults, we understand the context. We get how one could reach this level of anger and rage. But all a child sees is people going out of their way to destroy stuff and be loud. They don’t understand the concept behind the actual doings, and at this point, it doesn’t matter if you agree with this kind of vandalism or not. Because all your child is getting out of it is the mentality that it’s okay to mindlessly destroy or that those people are evil.
If you don’t explain the rights and values these people are trying to protect, then your child will not understand. And that is not okay at all.
3. Police brutality
This is the worst thing your child can see. A video filled with people who are supposed to protect the citizens from beating them and shooting at them. It can put a lot of fear and distrust in a child, so if you don’t address it, then that poor kid will need a therapist pretty soon.
You can’t explain this kind of cruelty. There is just no way to do it. All you can say is that they are just following orders and hope that your child doesn’t worry that it will happen to them.
Try “6 Must Watch Movies About Motherhood” and see if there’s a movie in there that you could watch with your child instead.
How to Talk About Protests Beforehand
If your child hasn’t been exposed to these things, then it is time for this talk, especially if you allow them to use the Internet. There are a lot of articles everywhere about the Hong Kong protests. Some are way too descriptive. It’s better to prepare for this and let your child open the conversation about the matter. This way, it won’t be as big of a shock.
Initiating this talk will be very hard, as it’s not a topic to arise out of nowhere. But once you start, it will flow by itself. Just make sure you cover specific points.
- Basic human rights (mention this phrase, you don’t need to explain them all)
- People’s right to resist inhumane conditions
- The cruelty that goes on during protests
- What you can reach by demanding fair treatment
Try to include these in the talk, as they are the core of protests and your child will end up being pretty confused if you eave some out.
But treat them like an adult while you are explaining it all. Don’t sugarcoat and don’t lie. You will be the bad guy when they see something online that goes against whatever you said.
It’s essential to protect your child from certain things. Especially on the Internet. And since protesting has become a trendy topic, you need to talk about it because nobody else will explain it to them. Protect them by showing them what is happening in a controlled environment.
Thank you for reading with us today. Be sure to check out similar articles to share with your child like “Morning Routine for Stay at Home Moms” or “Cute Lunch Box Notes For Your Loved Ones (Free & Printable)“.
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