Painting by Katsushika Hokusai -Tsunami with Mount Fuji, Japan
I let my kids watch the news. Together we watched the first Chilean Miner come out of the collapsed mine.
The next day Brandon gave a full presentation to his class about it and drew a diagram on the white board of the mine, the collapsed tunnel and the tunnel that was drilled to save them.
He got it.
We don't gloss over sad news. No those people aren't sleeping. No, those weren't paint guns.
We don't scare the living daylights out of them, but we let them know "Hey, this is what goes on in the world. Not everyone is good. Not everything on the news is bad. Sometimes people make stupid decisions/choices/mistakes. Sometimes some things are just out of our control."
Everything is a lesson.
We got in the bathtub. I showed the boys how the Earth's plates move under water. They flattened their hands and moved them side by side, jostling the water. Creating waves. Now imagine the force is so strong those waves get bigger and bigger.
They got it.
So much explaining.
Let them see what's going on. Explain what's happening in Japan, Egypt, Libya ...all around them. They do have the capacity of understanding, even if you have to explain it in simple terms (don't dumb it down).
I guess my point is...talk to your kids.