NSW Children’s Week 2016

NSW Children’s Week 2016: The Right of the Child to Reliable Information from the Media

The theme for the 2016 NSW Children’s Week surrounds Article 17 from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Article 17 is the Child’s right to information, including that obtained from the media. In relation to this, the UN has commented that this Article is vital to implement in early childhood.

With a child’s access to media increasing as the days go by, so does the responsibility of media organisations and companies to positively contribute to the realisation of children’s rights. In the UNCRC, the UN comments that these entities “should be encouraged to disseminate material that is appropriate to the interests of young children, socially and educationally beneficial to their well-being and which reflects the national and regional diversities of children’s circumstances, culture and language.”

With this, however, also comes the need to slowly and carefully introduce the complexities of our world to youngsters. This can be challenging, especially when young children aren’t able to process and understand what they are seeing or hearing nearly as easily as we can as adults.

What we do know, however, is that young children feel and express their emotions in a BIG, BIG way. When they are angry, it’s intense and fiery and when they are happy it’s a level of joy and exhilaration that as adults we do not express as freely.

It is our role to help our little people cope with their big emotions and help them grasp such complex conversations. Helping them to understand and manage their own thoughts and feelings in a positive and healthy way is crucial to the development of great emotional intelligence and self-regulation skills. Children who are able to express their feelings tend to feel more confident when faced with challenges, and are less inclined to place feelings of frustration on those around them.

On this note comes news reports and information in the public domain that could pose a difficult subject to speak about with your child. The topic is very mature for such young minds, and living in the information age means that we as parents need to be able to answer questions around difficult subjects in a matter of minutes.

To help, we have compiled a list of tips that first appeared on UNICEF’s website, about how to help your child understand and process what is going on in the world around them.

  1. Ask open questions and listen
    • Try to identify what your child is feeling
    • Help your child find the words to express how they are feeling
    • Don’t diminish their worries. Make sure you recognise their emotions and reassure them that what they are feeling is okay.
  2. Be honest
    • Make sure you are explaining the truth in a child-friendly way that will leave them feeling their questions have been answered, and they are not left more confused than before.
    • Watch their reactions and make sure you are sensitive to them if they are becoming distressed, make sure you reassure them that everything is okay and maybe leave the conversation for another day, however don’t leave the conversation open.
  3. Show and explain how people are helping
    • Share how people in the community are helping and smiling in the face of the issue. This should help relieve their anxiety and encourage them to extend compassion to others in times of need.
  4. Close the conversation with care
    • From the conversation, identify what else your child may need to talk about the issues covered and how you can support their understanding.
    • Reassure them that they can have a conversation with you at any time about anything.

Before having a chat with your little one, this website from ABC’s Behind the News helps explain how to talk to children about upsetting news, with child appropriate and easy to understand language, which can help give you tips on how to broach the subject with your child.

In this century, the mass media have come to rival parents, school, and religion as the most influential institution in children’s lives.

Media and Values Magazine

Author: G8 Education

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