Should We Really Shield Reality From Younger Generations?


Anna Odell, Staff Writer

As children, many of us grew up not knowing the harsh realities of life. Many parents tend to shield their kids from the unpleasant events that happen in our world. For example, death, bombings, or anything they would consider to be “scary.” While some argue that telling children about these things builds resilience, I disagree. Telling the younger generations about these terrible things can frighten them or harm them mentally. This is why I believe that we should continue to “sugarcoat” these topics until the children are at an age where they can fully understand and process the information in a healthy way. 

Speaking from personal experience, as a child, I was terrified of death. I saw death at a young age and didn’t really understand it. All I knew was that death meant people were “going away forever” and even then it was hard to understand. 

Lisa Fritscher on Very Well Mind stated, “children see death as a terrifying state of nothingness, and they don’t necessarily understand what causes it.” 

Explaining to our kids that one day they will cease to exist will only scare them even though it will, hopefully, be far in the future. Most children can’t even grasp the concept of death until they are at least 8 or 9-years-old. It makes more sense that we explain to them at an age where they can process the information.

Now, I’m not saying that we wait until they are 14 or 15-years-old. However, telling a child at the age of about five or six about topics such as death might just traumatize them. 

If something in the world happens, for example, a war or a bombing, I think it’s important to shield it from young people. It makes more sense to be positive and look at the bright side of things because, like the topic of death, it can be overwhelming for them and scare them into believing that bad things will happen to them or their family. 

When the time does come and a child is ready to understand serious things, it’s important that we tell them gently. Though, it is also important to be honest.

According to an article in from the American Psychological Association, “Tell the truth. Lay out the facts at a level they can understand. You do not need to give graphic details.”

If you try to sugarcoat the issue too much, it could frighten the child even more. For example, a common way parents describe death is by saying that the person “went to sleep forever.” This can be just as harmful as telling them all the gory details because the child could end up being afraid to go to sleep for fear of not waking up.

Talking about reality with children is a very delicate topic. I don’t believe that we should scare them with certain issues because I do think that some topics should only be discussed amongst older individuals or adults. While it is important to bring up these issues and explain it to them at some point in their lives, telling them at an age too early can do more harm than good. 


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