What to do when your child sees violence on TV

When your child sees violence on TV

Last night I had a bad mummy moment. It’s like my ‘Mummy’ brain decided to shut itself off at the most important moment and I failed…miserably.

We were sitting on the couch, it was way past Elliott’s bedtime and I made my last attempt to pry him from the couch and take him to bed. While I was giving him a big cuddle and he had his eyes on the television, I was too busy being an annoying mum, hugging and kissing him that I didn’t see what was actually on the television. CSI had started without me realising and as soon as Elliott started saying ‘Mummy’ in a distressed voice I turned to see a dead woman lying on the floor with blood coming from her mouth.

I felt shattered and so disappointed at myself. For so long I had been so careful in what Elliott watches on the television. We don’t watch the news, we monitor what we watch when Elliott is awake and we have a rule that Mr. G is NEVER allowed to play his Playstation warfare game when Elliott is around. The whole ‘playing with toy guns’ is another issue which I’ve also previously addressed.  Yet a minute of my inattention to the television I felt like all of my efforts to protect Elliott had been wasted, now he’d have this vision in his head, a vision that he did not need to see.

As soon as I realised what was happening, I quickly turned him away from the television and whisked him away. At the same time, giving him a big cuddle and reassuring him that it wasn’t real, but that didn’t change how I felt.

sad boy

How to support your child

Of course, the main thing is to monitor what your children see on television, but just like my situation, there may also be times when something simply catches you off guard and your child sees some sort of violence on TV.  If like me you ever get caught out or find that your child has been exposed to something they shouldn’t have been, here are some tips suggested by the Australian Psychological Society to support your child:

  1. Listen to your child to understand how they might be feeling and thinking.
  2. Encourage them to talk about what they just saw, but don’t force them.
  3. Emphasise that it’s normal to think and feel that way.
  4. Expect that they are likely to ask the same questions until they can make sense of what they saw on the television.
  5. Be patient. Provide the truth in your responses and explanations that are thoughtful and that will help them to have an understanding that is realistic.
  6. Correct anything that they may have misperceived.
  7. Let them express their feelings, it could be through play instead of words so take the time to play with them.
  8. Reassure your child that nothing bad will happen to them and that you are there to support them and look out for them.
  9. If your child is distressed, do a calming activity with them.
  10. Give plenty of cuddles.
  11. Let them be dependent on your for a little while.

Has this happened to you before? How did you deal with it?

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman. She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a freelance writer, a social media manager, a Mum to her six-year-old son, one-year-old daughter, six chickens and Benny the dog and wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little worker's cottage in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia.
Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

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  1. July 21, 2015 / 8:25 am

    Oh Eva don’t beat yourself up. Happens to the best of us! Little Miss 3 caught some of the mick Fanning shark attack footage yesterday and spent the night in bed with us!!

    • July 22, 2015 / 6:21 pm

      Oh dear! See that’s something I wouldn’t even think about but yet would terrify them and even make them scared of getting in the water. Poor little thing. 🙁

  2. July 21, 2015 / 8:57 am

    I think we can only shield them for so long. A good tip is to explain that it’s made up, actors telling a story. But also to acknowledge their feelings and let them talk it out. Great post Eva!

  3. July 21, 2015 / 10:00 am

    All your good efforts haven’t gone to waste Eva. I agree with Amy in saying that it is a pretend story!

  4. July 21, 2015 / 11:48 am

    Ahh you poor thing. Don’t beat yourself up about it. It was an accident and couldn’t be helped. It’s not as though you left him in front of the TV. We haven’t had anything like this happen, but I am conscious of taking the kids away from the TV while the news is on and always turn the radio down if something inappropriate comes on. I remember on the way to day care recently the radio announcer was talking about Miley Cyrus with her top off or something and Miss Five pipes up, ‘OH MY GOSH, SHE WASN’T WEARING A TOP. DID EVERYONE SEE HER BOOBIES?’ #teamIBOT

  5. July 21, 2015 / 1:21 pm

    We try to be really careful with this because my eldest is quite sensitive. Will have to remember this advice for when I slip up because I know it is coming.

  6. July 21, 2015 / 2:09 pm

    Unfortunately we can’t shield them from everything. A useful method is definitely talking about what they saw if they show signs of concern or distress and I find explaining the fact it’s not real is generally helpful.

    It’s happened here too. Actually she didn’t bat an eyelid because I automatically gave the ‘it’s pretend’ line & it wasn’t too graphic.

    Don’t beat yourself up x

    • July 22, 2015 / 6:16 pm

      We can’t, can we? I’m not sure if the whole ‘it’s not real’ worked with Elliott or not, I can’t be certain he really understood what I meant. Hopefully he did.

  7. July 21, 2015 / 9:49 pm

    We have had several close calls, and it’s not a nice feeling. We avoid news and adult shows too, but a couple of times the boys have turned the TV on and it has been the morning news shows. One time I overheard a story about the ISIS beheadings come on and I don’t think I have ever moved that fast in my life!

  8. July 23, 2015 / 9:42 am

    Oh no! You poor thing! I think your big cuddle would have definitely helped. Those tips are great though too.