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Capitol riots: How do we talk about it with our kids?

Posted at 1:44 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 14:04:27-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The scenes from the U.S. Capitol Wednesday evoked strong emotions, rippling across the country, and many parents are now tasked with discussing the events with their children.

Psychologist and Behavioral Analyst Reena B. Patel has decades of experience in this arena and said even she was shaken.

"I too, as a professional, working for many many years as a psychologist, was taken back. That’s the house of the people," she said with wide eyes.

Patel said it's important as a parent to first step back and go inward, evaluate your emotions, and understand them before speaking with a child.

"We want to get our emotions in place and find that balance because we need to have a lot of positive with explaining what negatively just occurred," Patel said.

When approaching your children on this topic, she said it's important to validate, listen, and empathize.

"I see, I hear, that must be scary. That’s number one, just listen don’t jump in," said Patel. "Number two: Ask what they would’ve done differently? What would you do in a situation like that? Because you’re checking for understanding and educating. Also, because sometimes you might have a teenager say, 'well was that the only way to handle this? What would I do?' And help scaffold, shape. Help them come up with better solutions."

Patel says the third important step is to remind them that they're safe and it's okay to disagree, "but words do matter, hate is out there."

Many minority parents have an even harder task of approaching this conversation, with the actions that did or didn't take place at the Capitol, compared to actions taken during Black Lives Matter protests in the summer.

"It’s so important to be sensitive to that, bring awareness don’t push it aside ... Acknowledge that that is still out there, there’s still unrest, there’s still inequity out there but we’re trying to move the pendulum and let’s continue to do that," Patel said.

Parents are given the opportunity and power to shape the next generation.