UNF expert explains how to talk to your children about the violence at the Capitol

Jacksonville, Fla. — Rioters stormed the Capitol building Wednesday evening as the house and senate met to certify the results of the November election. Much of the nation tuned in to watch the chaos unfold while at home, some of those viewers were young children.

Tayloe McDonald told Action News Jax it was important that she discuss what was happening with her teenage son. “If we as parents don’t have these conversations then we neglect our responsibilities as parents to rear our kids in understanding the world,” Tayloe McDonald said.

Action News Jax’s, Alicia Tarancon, spoke to a psychology professor at the University of North Florida about how to talk to your children about what they’re seeing.

Dr. Tracy Alloway said younger children may not have the words yet to express the anxiety they are feeling and parents should be aware of shifts in their behavior.

“As a parent the first thing to look for is physical changes that your child maybe showing. Are they complaining about stomach ache or pains, that’s what we call psychosomatic so in other words they’re looking for a physical avenue to express their worry and anxiety,” Dr. Alloway said.

Dr. Alloway told me for younger children you don’t need to unpack the whole situation because it can be overwhelming. With older children she said you should allow them the space to express how they are feeling after watching something like the violence at the Capitol.

Josie Summa said what’s happening now whether good or bad, it’s part of history. That’s why her kids need to know about it.

“I’m telling them that it is not normal. Yesterday, it was really shocking, but it was important for them to see and important for us to kind of put it in context for them,” Summa said.

Dr. Alloway says if your children are feeling anxious it’s not a bad idea to spend a little family time together, consider doing a puzzle or game and teach them how to regulate their emotions.

She told Action News Jax when you do discuss current events focus on the actions rather than a person. Try not to use words that will cue them into thinking a certain way.