El Paso psychology expert offers tips on how to talk to kids about siege at U.S. Capitol

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — With kids at home more as El Paso schools remain closed, some children watched the siege at the U.S. Capitol from their living rooms.

Dr. Carleton Brown, a University of Texas at El Paso Assistance Professor of Educational Psychology, said the first thing parents should do is listen.

“I do think children do have concerns,” said Brown. “You want to listen to their concerns, listen to their type of questions that they’re asking, the things that they wonder about. You do want to validate their feelings and their emotions.”

Brown added that while children learn about the government in school, it’s important that parents also talk about what it means to live in a democratic society, saying that it’s a good time to teach children about respecting different viewpoints.

“Make it clear that we all belong in this society, despite our different viewpoints, encouraging active listening skills,” said Brown. “I heard what you said, I can repeat what you just said to me, I can understand what you’re saying and then I get the opportunity to get my view across.”

Brown explained that it’s important how parents express their emotions regarding political issues because kids are watching their parents. Brown explained that everyone experiences both emotional losses and emotional wins, but it’s all about how you deal with those wins and losses.

“Emotional win means how do we treat others who have opposing viewpoints who suffered an emotional loss. You know, we need to treat them with dignity and respect as well. For those who have emotional loss, we need to take that seriously because it can be the key to ambiguous grief,” said Brown.

Brown added that, for teenagers, it’s important to explain that extreme ideas, viewpoints and actions have consequences.

“It’s important that our youth, our teenagers, our young adults understand what are the consequences for those types of actions. Not only in the short term, but also long term to our democracy and to our individual lifestyles as well,” said Brown.

One El Paso mother Joanne Arias has three boys ages eleven, ten, and seven. Arias tells KTSM 9 News she allowed her older children to watch the news but only for a short period of time.

“In a limited amount just so they know what’s going on,” said Arias. “But we do talk politics with them, especially the older one quiet a bit and so we did explain it. But if we thought it was too much we turned it off, so maybe just a few minuets so they know what’s going on.”

Saying her son John Paul asks a lot of questions.

“Yeah, I think so I get to learn about it more,” said John Paul Arias, Joanne’s son.

Another El Paso mother, Mary Gutierrez has five children ages eight, six, four, two, and a nine-week-old. Gutierrez explains that her kids are watching TV more now that they are home and not going to school. However, she says usually she and her husband watch the news without the children, but still thinks it’s important to talk to them about what’s going on.

“That way when they have friends and they grow older they will always know that there are two sides to a story whether it be our president or anything that they come in conflict with, with their friends in the future,” said Gutierrez.

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