Child psychologist: Don’t take your kids with you to a protest in Cleveland

Child psychologist: Don’t take your kids with you to a protest in Cleveland
City of Cleveland institutes curfew ‘due to violence and unrest’ from George Floyd protests (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -The tension and violence happening in our community and across our country is tough enough for adults to take in, but for children it’s even harder to process.

Pediatric psychologist Dr. Caroline Ievers-Landis, with UH Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital says while she understands parents who want their kids involved with them in protests, she advises against it.

“They want their child to be part of this shared experience that is so powerful and exhilarating. But there is the concern over that lack of control over that situation. There’s that lack of control by the parent where the child could be traumatized,” she said.

Some parents first instinct might be to shelter their children from all this and avoid them seeing the video of police encounters, riots, protests, and fires because these are tough situations to explain.

But Dr. Veronica Issac, adolescent medicine specialist in the Cleveland Clinic’s Pediatric Institute says if they’re asking about it, it’s important to share this with your kids with age-appropriate and developmentally-appropriate ways.

“I think it is a great time to open up the conversation with parents and have parents talk to their kids about what’s going on how they’re feeling and starting a good dialogue,” she said.

Dr. Issac said as an adult, lead by example and don’t get caught up in the news 24-7 because what you see, they’re seeing too.

However, she says open up the conversation about what they feel when they see what’s going on, and help them come up with something positive if they want to get involved.

“Figuring out little ways to be involved that are appropriate for them but still bring them some level of feeling involved in support and also understanding of what’s going on in the world," she said.

She suggested things like bringing water to protestors and/or police or making signs of support or love and posting them in your yard or front window.

Dr. Levers-Landis says parents and children should channel their anger and fear into ways that are helpful to others, and be careful with words.

'What I think it important to think of now, is your behavior now, your communication now. Will you look back on that and feel good about that? Will you feel pride about the way you conducted yourself, both as adults and children?" she said.

Both doctors say when little ears are around, make sure you as the adult speak respectfully to others, to help teach kids how to work through differences and effectively communicate your point of view.

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