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Today’s dramatic events — from the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, to the baby formula shortages, to sky-high gas prices and more — are weighing heavily on Americans. And kids are picking up on the major anxieties around them.
How should parents be speaking to and around their children during times like these?
Family therapist Tom Kersting, who is based in New Jersey, sat down with “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday to explain that parents should think carefully before they react around their kids.
“There’s a reason our children’s anxiety and depression rates are through the roof,” he said.
“Our kids pick up on everything.”
Family therapist Tom Kersting joined “Fox and Friends” on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. “Our kids are like sponges” today, he said. (Fox News)
Kersting explained that most parents “don’t realize” that holding onto and building up tension within the household is then projected back onto their children.
“And our kids are like sponges experiencing that,” he said.
“So, parents really need to take a breath, pause, find calmness and try to bring that into the equation when they’re around their children.”
The psychotherapist, who specializes in family therapy and children’s exposure in the digital age, recommended shutting off the heavy news on TV, or at least keeping it out of the earshot of young kids.
Family therapist Tom Kersting suggested that parents “find calmness” around their kids. (iStock)
For middle schoolers and teens, Kersting suggested checking in by asking open-ended questions, such as, “Is everything OK?” — while allowing children to guide the conversation on their own.
“They can really see the value of things — the value of a dollar and how to work hard for that dollar.”
“If you pick up as a parent on things that are not characteristic of your child — like they’re being quiet, they’re too clingy, or they’re doing things out of the ordinary — then we want to open up that conversation more,” he said.
“The conversation is — I just want to make sure everything is OK with you; that you’re feeling good, that you’re doing well in school and that you’re happy and that you know that you’re loved.”
Kids accustomed to instant gratification may be experiencing scarcity for the first time amid current events, N.J. therapist Tom Kersting told “Fox and Friends.” (iStock)
In the new tech age, in which kids are accustomed to instant gratification, Kersting pointed out that this might be the first time some of them are experiencing scarcity — which could be a silver lining.
“There could be a positive taken from this, for our children,” he said.
“I think it helps them to maybe have a little bit of that depression-era mentality, where they can really see the value of things — the value of a dollar and how to work hard for that dollar.”