Sanford pediatrician offers tips on how to talk to kids about darker issues

The Jorud family takes an afternoon walk near Lindenwood Park Thursday, June 4. Tanner Robinson / WDAY

FARGO — Brady Jorud has been going on walks with his wife and 1-year-old daughter, Ellie, as a way to escape the chaos happening around the world.

"I think we just try to find things that are safe to do, just going for lots of walks, we have a dog at home, so we spend a lot of time with the dog," he said.

Even though the family spends much of their time outside, they say it's still hard to avoid some of the bad news, and oftentimes, little ears hear it as well.

Stephanie Hanson, a pediatrician at Sanford Health's Children's Hospital, said kids can tell something isn't right in an instant, and that children can show signs of awareness by the time they turn 2 years old.


"They're still overhearing conversations, they're sensing tension and anxiety in their parents, so they know that something's going on and that there's some uncomfortable things happening," she said.

Hanson said when talking about things like riots, protests and coronavirus with kids, be careful, but to the point.

"Don't avoid the topic," she said. "I think by avoiding it, you send a message that either that it's not real or it's not happening, or that it's something that your child should be overly anxious or ashamed about."

In the case of the protest on Saturday, May 30, many families brought their kids to the peaceful part of the protest as a learning experience.

As for the Joruds, they say they'll limit exposure to little Ellie, since she's still young, but they're looking forward to telling her everything once she's older.

"It definitely would be an interesting year for sure to kind of go back and explain what was going on with all the different things that have happened this year already," Brady Jorud said.

Tanner Robinson is a producer for First News on WDAY-TV.
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