The media need a new angle to keep the Madeleine story in the news, so the focus has shifted to the impact the story is having on the nation's children. Experts are appearing on television to advise parents on how to deal with their children's worries and distress about Madeleine and the newspapers are providing their own wisdom. How to tell your children about Maddy in today's Telegraph is typical of the genre. It is quite a clever way to peddle news: first create mass hysteria, fuel it with yellow ribbons and shrines then cash in again by convincing everyone they have been traumatised by the story and sell them a series of 'helpful' articles.
Here are my tips for parents:
- Don't let your four year old watch the news. In fact, if you want your child to develop a healthy, happy attitude to life in general, don't have a television set at all.
- Most four year olds have no interest in newspapers and most parents like to read their papers in peace and quiet. Keep the papers away from the four year olds.
- Remember that old saying 'not in front of the children' and don't discuss distressing stories over breakfast.
- Don't wear yellow ribbons or take flowers to street corner memorials, it's bound to lead to awkward questions.
It's quite simple really. It used to be called responsible parenting and child psychologists used to work with children who were genuinely traumatised.