Today, January 6, 2021, has been a devastating, embarrassing, confusing day in our nation’s history.
How do we wrap our heads around what happened today?
How do we explain to our children that our government building–the US Capitol–was broken into by fellow citizens?
How do we discuss the terrorism we experienced today?
How do we approach the fact that the law enforcement officers handled Black Lives Matter demonstrations much differently than they handled today’s situation?
How do we explain the white privilege that dominated images on screen and in the media today?
How do we cover the president’s incitement of violent sedition today?
I’m floored, sickened, and saddened by what happened today–but I’m not at all surprised about it. It has been brewing for years.
I just am not sure how to approach it with my kids.
Here’s the skinny. . .
How to Talk to Kids About Politically-Charged Violence in DC
I always lean on the experts when I’m stuck.
Experts have agreed that we handle this situation the same way we handled 9/11.
Dr. Julie Webb said on Twitter:
And I totally agree with her.
I also often lean on educational experts or parenting experts during times like these three outlets:
1.) Statement from National Education Association (NEA) president, Becky Pringle:
NEA President Becky Pringle on violence at U.S. Capitol
These seditious attacks ‘are bred from years of vitriol, hate and bigotry’
WASHINGTON — Trump supporters today violently stormed the U.S. Capitol in a last-ditch attempt to stop Congress from certifying that President-elect Joe Biden won the election.
The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Becky Pringle:
“Make no mistake about it: What we are witnessing today is an attack on our country and on our democratic institutions. To be clear, these seditious attacks on our Capitol are bred from years of vitriol, hate and bigotry and were fueled by a president and the many elected Republican accomplices who blatantly lied about the election while attempting to overturn the will of the people in a desperate attempt to hold onto power. In America, voters pick our leaders; our leaders do not pick and choose which voices to heed and which to silence.
“We must come together — just as we did in record numbers in the election — to show our students that we will stand together against politicians who incite violence and those who act on it. We will stand up to those who empower the anarchists that have violently stormed the Capitol, trying to overturn the will of the people. We will protect our democracy. The world is watching. Our students are watching.”
Follow on Twitter at @NEAMedia and @BeckyPringle
Learn more about how to create safe spaces to talk about race here
I love how she said this, and I think it’s a great starting point for discussion with kids, no matter the age.
UPDATED TO ADD: NEA recently published a really helpful article specifically on how educators can and should handle the attack on the capitol with their students.
Click on the image below to find the article: Talking to Kids About the Attack on the Capitol.
Essentially, the author, Cindy Long, suggests:
- REASSURE CHILDREN THAT THEY ARE SAFE.
- CREATE TIME TO LISTEN AND BE AVAILABLE TO TALK.
- KEEP YOUR EXPLANATIONS DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE.
- REVIEW SCHOOL SAFETY PROCEDURES.
- OBSERVE CHILDREN’S EMOTIONAL STATE.
- LIMIT MEDIA EXPOSURE.
- MAINTAIN A NORMAL ROUTINE.
There are a number of helpful downloads and resources on the post itself. Definitely visit and share.
2.) Common Sense Media
In this post about Explaining the News to Our Kids, the author reminds readers to take children’s age into consideration when sharing news.
She also says:
- assure kids that they are safe
- limit news intake
- remember your own actions and responses
- consider taking some positive action to help (if possible)
- talk, talk, talk with your kids about the situation
- check in with your kids, asking questions and listening
- let kids express themselves
It’s definitely an article worth checking out if you have time or interest. As always, thank you, Common Sense!
3.) Local School District or Board of Ed:
Look to see if your local county or district has made a statement about the latest events in DC.
I’m impressed that our county released a statement so quickly. MCPS Board of Ed president and Superintendent just released the statement below.
They included the following resources at the bottom of the letter to the community:
- Talking to Children About Violence, from National Association of School Psychologists
- EveryMind, for Mental Wellness resources
- MCPS Guide to Facilitating Discussions About Race & Other Challenging Issues
- Supporting Marginalized Students in the Context of the 2020 Election, from National Association of School Psychologists
- Talking About Racism and Violence: Resources for Parents and Educators
Remember, self care is incredibly important right now. For all of us.
I am no expert in government or history, nor am I pretending to be one. I just think that sharing here is helping me process all of this.
We have to remember that self care is incredibly important right now, whatever that looks like for you.
It’s a really crazy time right now, and it’s a hard time to be a human.
Be kind to yourself.
Show yourself grace.
Remember that you need the oxygen mask before you put one on the kids.