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Teachable Moments: 4 Discussions to Have with Your Children Following the Events at the U.S. Capitol Building

January 08, 2021     By Boys Town Contributor

Anxiety, Boys Town Parenting, Coping Skills for Teens, Crisis, Teachable Moments

The violent and deadly events in Washington, DC where a protest was stoked into a rioting mob that stormed of the U.S. Capitol building was deeply disturbing and terrifying for Americans and others throughout the world to watch unfold. This historic, troubling event will continue to be covered by all the various media platforms. As parents, you can assume your children have read and watched what took place and are grappling with what to make of it all. As you talk to your kids about it, we want to provide you with some topics that you can discuss with them as you, your child and your family look for the teachable moments from this painful event.           

Online Safety is Important. The internet and social media are places where kids are vulnerable to the spread of misinformation, and they are regularly used by bad actors to manipulate, and even radicalize, those who are vulnerable. While there is much good that comes from modern technology, it can also be used in dangerous and destructive ways. That's why it's more important than ever for kids who regularly go online and use social media platforms to understand how their algorithms work, and how the content they consume can gradually build a false reality around them. Here are a few ways you can keep your kids informed and safe:  

  • Start by having a conversation about how the internet and social media can be used in inappropriate and even sinister ways. Kids need to be taught about the dangers of the online world just as they do any other part of their world.    
  • Discuss how online and social media algorithms work, and how bad actors can use them to manipulate naive kids who are susceptible to deception. It might be an uncomfortable conversation, but it's always best to be proactive and honest with kids.      
  • Monitor what your children are viewing online and on social media, or at least ask your kids what types of things they are viewing and who they are interacting with. This will give you the best insight into where your child is currently at regarding safe and appropriate use of online and social media content.   

“Competing with Character" isn't Just a Sports Thing. At Boys Town, one of the ways we teach kids character-building skills is through our “Competing with Character" (CWC) program. It's not just intended for sports but also for all parts of their lives where they might face disappointment and adversity. Character matters. And teaching children character-building skills can help them be more prepared to handle difficult situations with respect, grace and dignity. Here are a few CWC skills you can review with you kids and discuss how they apply to current events and other situations in their lives:  

  • Respect Your Opponents
  • Don't trash talk or make rude gestures.
  • Play within the rules.
  • Ignore unsportsmanlike behavior from your opponent.
  • Win with Class and Lose with Dignity
  • Congratulate your opponent, win or lose.
  • Don't brag or boast when winning; don't criticize or make excuses when losing.
  • Take a lesson from both winning and losing.
  • Handle Disappointment and Adversity
  • Avoid negative physical and verbal displays.
  • Learn from the situation.
  • Work harder.

Look for the Helpers During Crises.
As with any crisis that commands wall-to-wall media coverage for days, it can be stressful for your kids…and for you and your family. Here's a Boys Town blog that has tips on how to handle major events like the current one and how you can help your children and family navigate it.

Tune Out and Take Care of Your Mental Health.  At times like this, it's so important to avoid getting caught up obsessing over the news. There's a fine line between staying informed and diving down a rabbit role where you spend hours consumed with coverage that only ends up negatively affecting your mood and how you deal with others and navigate your day. The same is true for your children. Now would be a great time for you to review your family media policy and discuss it with your kids. For help on how to do this, click here.

We wish you well during these difficult times and hope you find these suggestions helpful as we all march on toward brighter days. 

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