Talking with kids about tragedy
The events at Sandy Hook Elementary School shook our nation. News outlets broadcast story upon story, all day long, keeping shocked, heartbroken viewers up-to-date with unfolding events.
For many, the day started normally and, despite what was happening, continued on just as it always does. Our kids went to school. We went to work. We did what we had to do to get through the day.
Many things weighed on many minds. One of which was how are we parents supposed to talk about this tragedy with our children in a way that doesn’t take away from their feelings of security.
Because if they hadn’t heard the news by the time they got home from school, they’d hear it by the time they went to bed. And, depending on the age of the child, discussing tragedy, whether it be the horrific event on Friday or any other type of devastating news, needs to be done with sensitivity and reassurance.
Some tips to help kids through tragic events are:
- Limit television exposure, especially news channels.
- Let kids know that measures are in place at their schools, at all times, to protect them.
- Be honest and reassuring.
- Don’t talk about it around younger kids, they don’t need to know. Express to older kids that they shouldn’t bring it up around their younger siblings, as well.
- Keep the answers and explanations age and developmentally appropriate.
- Let kids know that most people are not bad but they should always be aware of their surroundings.
- Have an open line of communication with your kids. Let them know that you are available to talk about anything at any time.
You can send notes of support to the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School at this address:
Sandy Hook Elementary School
12 Dickenson Drive
Sandy Hook, CT 06482
Our thoughts and prayers are with all who were affected by this tragedy. More information on how to help kids handle tragedy at age-appropriate levels can be found on NMHA.org’s website.
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