How Far Should Parents Protect Highly Sensitive Children From World News?

Another great discussion in the HSK community: this time about news lessons in schools which have an emotional impact on (highly sensitive) children, the aftermath of which parents clear up at home. Just how far should we protect our children from the realities of the world?

Highly sensitive children (and adults) process information and think about things more deeply than others. If they see images of the damage done by a hurricane they don’t just see destroyed buildings but also then think about the lives lost, dead children, grieving parents. They feel deep emotions and feel involved. News items are not just images that are seen and words that are heard and then filed away and forgotten about. They impact. They impact highly sensitive people (HSP) deeply. It’s why many HSPs choose not to avidly read the news; it’s why I asked my husband to stop sharing the world’s misery with me – (he’s a news fanatic). So what about our children? Where’s the balance between ignorance and protection?

How Far Should Parents Protect Highly Sensitive Children From World News?

What prompted the discussion was the clowns. The horror clowns. The bizarre phenomenon that started in the USA has spread its ugly tentacles to the Netherlands and for some strange reason that was deemed an item suitable for sharing in a classroom. Cue sleepless nights and terror for some children. I’m an adult and it’s not something that sits easy with me either. My children don’t need to be enlightened about this strange trend – and thankfully it’s not something that my son has been subjected to. But other parents ARE picking up the pieces.

Which we have done in the past with other topics. I had to go into school and explain how my then seven year old was terrified we were all going to be wiped out by ebola, after a news lesson on the subject. Sometimes it’s not what is shared but how it’s shared – and what is NOT shared or explained comprehensively enough.

My husband had a frank talk with the school after my son came home upset after a news lesson about the Paris attacks, explaining that there were numerous children crying in his class about it. The school next to ours chose not to follow the news lesson that week as they deemed the material too upsetting for the children. I couldn’t have agreed more.

And then there were the gorillas. My son learnt that they are endangered and pursued by poachers. Heartbreaking, he said. And it’s made him furious. He has thought up all manners of punishment for these people who needlessly kill animals for money. And he’s also pledged half his monthly pocket money to the Wereld Natuur Fonds. Because he cares. He wants things to be different. He’s nine.

And I think that’s where the border lies between sheltering our children from the realities of the world and sharing the truth with them – can they make a difference? Does sharing the news item help them understand a situation better or does it make them feel helpless and scared?

Tip: Simplicity Parenting book has an excellent section about sharing news and world events with children and worth a read.

“Parenting from a base of fear is more common these days that a generation or two ago because when something awful happens we are blasted on all sides with every tiny detail. But we can also choose not to drown in the details, to stay away from all the media surrounding us.” Happy Sensitive Kids – Getting Back to Basics: Simplicity Parenting

Tip: For those of you in the Netherlands with children following the nieuwsbegrip method of reading comprehension there is a Facebook page which relays the topic of the week so you at least know what may have been talked about.

Last tip: Here’s a list of news sites for children around the world by Expat Since Birth.



About Amanda van Mulligen

Mother, writer, author, blogger. Born British, Living Dutch. I have three Dutch sons and a Dutch husband and I blog about Turning Dutch and raising highly sensitive children.
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5 Responses to How Far Should Parents Protect Highly Sensitive Children From World News?

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