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How violence at the Capitol has impacted young people, and what families are doing to support one another

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Credit: ZUMA / MGN

ROCKFORD (WREX) — Jessica Oladapo's daughter's watched violence at the Capitol unfold through their social media accounts.

"My first thought was is this from a movie or something," says 14-year-old Oyenike. "Because it looked crazy and unbelievable."

That disbelief turned to worry.

"It made me a little anxious and give me a little anxiety," says Oyenike.

Her 12-year-old sister, Oluwatosin, agrees.

"It made me a little uneasy. This made me very stressed and very scared."

The recent violence at the Capitol comes after a year filled with pandemic fears and civil unrest across the country.

"It's just been a lot of change at once," says Oyenike. "I don't like change like that, when a lot of change comes at once it can give me a lot of anxiety and make me kind of spiral."

Their mom says her family has constant conversations about these national issues.

"As a mom I have always wanted to protect them," says Jessica. "How do I protect them? I protect them by having conversations both with them but making sure my little corner of the world a better place."

Nikki Ticknor has a 7-year-old who she says is still trying to make sense of the unrest.

"I think he's trying to figure out why people are so angry," says Ticknor.

Ticknor, Like Oladapo, has regular check-ins and conversations with her children but also recommends parents set the tone.

"This is a really good opportunity for us as parents to not only model what we want our kids to be in the world, but to teach them what you do when you're having these feelings. Also being mindful of, "What does my mom do when she's upset with what's in the world?".

Both moms are not only parents but experts. Oladapo is a Sociology professor with a Psychology degree. She also runs classes on diversity, inclusion, and equity for companies and organizations. Ticknor has a masters degree in Psychology and extensive trauma training.

13 News also spoke with a family doctor, Dr. Syed Zaidi of OSF St. Anthony, for what he recommends families do during this uncertainty. The father of four says don't wait for your children to come to you with questions. Dr. Zaidi urges parents to open those lines of communication. He stresses some kids may have concerns or questions about what's happening but aren't vocalizing it. His advice is to ask open ended questions to figure out what level of understanding your child has.

"I think the way you approach it is you be like 'Wow, there's a lot going on right now. What do you guys think about what's going on?' That's how I would approach a 13-year-old or a 12-year-old," says Dr. Zaidi. And think about, 'How does that make you feel? Have you had any thoughts about this?'"

Dr. Zaidi also urges parents to model good behavior for their children by showing respect for others.

Mary Sugden

Mary Sugden is the Investigative Reporter at WREX. She joined the team in December 2014 as the evening producer. In 2015 she made the move to evening reporter before joining the 13 Investigates team in May of 2018.

She grew up in Woodstock, Illinois and graduated from Woodstock High School in 2009. Mary graduated with a degree in Journalism and Marketing from Loyola University Chicago in 2013.

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