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Capitol Chaos: Child Psychologists Encourage Open Conversations With Children As They Try To Make Sense Of Events

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- What happened in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday was shocking to adults, but it was also possibly upsetting and more confusing for children.

Child psychologists are encouraging open conversations with kids.

The chaos at Capitol Hill will be a disturbing chapter in our American history books, but it's one children are trying to make sense of today.

Those children include teacher Cecily Robinson's seventh grade students from Great Oaks Charter School in Manhattan.

"This conversation is needed, which I'm excited for. It's needed. I love the thoughts. I love the insight," Robinson said.

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"My first thoughts when I saw the video was like, why now? Because the election was months ago, so like, what made them think today?" one student said. "I was also thinking about how other families are affected by this."

Principal Timberly Wilson says Wednesday night, the school's administration immediately gathered resources and planned how they would discuss the insurrection in Washington with their students learning from home.

"There's a lot of anxiety. There's a lot of confusion. There's a lot of stress," Wilson told CBS2's Hazel Sanchez. "We don't want to trigger students in either direction. We don't want to increase the anxiety, right? We want to make sure that we're allowing them the space and opportunity to express how they feel and get their thoughts out."

Child psychologist Reena Patel strongly recommends schools and parents talk about the protests with their children in an age-appropriate manner, emphasizing respect for differences and that violence is never the answer.

"If you don't, they're going to mentally make up their own judgement. Maybe they won't understand what's right from wrong, and so it's up to us to talk about what happened yesterday was wrong," Patel said.

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During a Zoom class, Wilson asked students, "What may be a better way for you to stand up for yourself instead of what we saw yesterday?"

"Become a better person instead of being completely negative and causing destruction," one student said.

"Hopefully people will start acting more respectfully towards our president and not only towards our president but to our entire country," another student said.

"There could be hope if people start to change," another student said.

A change that is long overdue.

The New York City Department of Education's social studies and civics department has set up a resource list to help teachers in their discussions. To view the resource guide, click here.


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