By Children’s Librarian Shelley Harris
Well, 2021 has certainly begun right where 2020 left off: with a lot of tough topics. Even our youngest kids know when big or upsetting things happen in the news. They may not know the details, but they can see and feel the strong emotions of their grownups and that impacts them.
Can you think of upsetting events that happened when you were a young child, and how your caregivers responded? For me, it was the Challenger explosion when I was four. I remember watching it happen with my mother, and what sticks out for me is her shock and horror. For many kids, last week’s riots will be an event they remember with clarity.
Below find resources to help children process difficult emotions through conversation and activities.
Watch these videos
New this week
This week, Miss Jenny and Ruthie made a video on processing feelings about big news events, which you may find useful for your children.
About the video from Miss Jenny
“In this video, it was really important that Ruthie (the child) led the conversation and that we modeled going at a pace that felt safe for her, so as not to cause any additional fear or trauma.
“Ruthie has a relationship with her viewers and has been vulnerable, sharing what she feels, how she feels, and how she copes. Art is one of her favorite ways to explore her feelings; mine is movement. It was important to show that we have different methods to cope and process, and we can still support one another.
“I used processing art or movement a lot in my previous role as a teacher and continue to use it in my role at the library, so I wanted to model this as well. Through experience, I have discovered that processing art and movement helps children process feelings and sometimes is a way to foster conversation.”
—Jenny Jackson, Community Engagement Coordinator
More videos about expressing emotions
Check out these earlier videos we’ve made on expressing emotions during scary times, as well.
If You’re Worried and You Know It is an easy way to segue into emotion check-ins:
In Too Many Emotions, Ruthie has so many emotions that she doesn’t know what to do with them.
Read these articles
Here are some of the resources Jenny used to make her video this week, which may help you as well.
- This article from NPR, also available in audio, gives tips from kindergarten teachers and links to several other resources, including PBS.
- Kate Messner, a notable children’s author and former teacher, shares resources and discussion tips for kids of all ages. Especially for younger kids, focus on the helpers.
- These tips also include signs to look for when stress and anxiety is becoming too much for kids.
- Facing History is an education group that connects the events of the past with what is happening in the present. While these strategies are meant for older students, caregivers might find helpful ideas.
Shelley is a children’s librarian with a passion for early literacy, serving and celebrating the disability community, and exploring technology. She can often be found practicing storytime songs with her black lab, Bingo.